If you were to join us for a family movie night on a weekend, you would discover some of our traditions and weird foibles: One child grabs a picnic blanket to spread out on the ground in anticipation of dinner and a movie. (We pronounce it “pick-n-ick,” in the voice of Daws Butler from the Yogi Bear Show.) One child makes sure that the water bottles are all filled up. (We discovered early on that cups with no lids on the floor was a bad idea.) One child helps take the plates from the kitchen to the living room.
Then the movie begins. The kiddos are all enthralled by the silver screen, receiving periodic reminders to actually eat their food. After their plates are empty, we all snuggle or spread out on the couches and finish the rest of the film–more than likely a Pixar classic or PBS special.
But something interesting happens after the last scene is over. No one gets up and turns off the television screen. Most times, everyone keeps watching as the credits roll. Sometimes, it will turn into a dance party (if you’ve never enjoyed the end credits of “Wreck-It Ralph” or “Despicable Me,” you’re missing out). You see, when we watch a movie as a family, the movie isn’t over until the credits have finished.
The end credits have become an art form of their own. Original music from the composer accompanies an often-whimsical retelling of the story we just enjoyed, or gives hints of what happens next. Or a musician remixes one of the anthems from the flick in their own style, adding to the experience.
Beyond enjoying the credits on their own, it’s my husband’s and my little way of acknowledging that there were many other people involved in the creation of this art. It’s one small way of saying “Thank you” to the gaffers, color graders, editors, stunt actors, writers, craft services, makeup artists, and animal handlers. To see is to acknowledge.
Plus, you never know what you might discover in the process. The location of the stunning filming location, the name of the body double, the retelling of the story in animated form as the names and companies scroll past. Even before Marvel came along and made end credit watchers of us all, it was tradition in the Pallock Household to not skip the credits.
This extends to reading habits as well. When I pick up a book to read, I always read the forward. I rarely skip the acknowledgments. I never pass over the Epilogue. Too many gems are hidden in these sections of a book for me to not at least skim the passages.
This summer has included some delightful time in the book of Colossians, thanks to a series at our church.
The introduction of Colossians begins right away: “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, to the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae:”
Wait, what? Timothy co-authored Colossians?
We sometimes think of Timothy of a young, insecure believer mentored by Paul. He is the recipient of the advice, after all, to “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12). Timothy’s first letter from Paul reveals that he was frequently ill and battled stomach ailments. He received direct missives from the missionary giant, encouraging him to hold on to faith and a good conscience.
But sometimes I forget that Timothy grew through those things, going on to work alongside Paul, lead the church at Ephesus, and become a bastion in the early church.
Noting that Timothy co-authored Colossians sent me down a happy rabbit trail. He actually appears in the credits of six epistles: 2 Corinthians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, and Philemon.
Silvanus helped write 1 and 2 Thessalonians. His unfamiliar name becomes familiar in Acts when he goes by the name of Silas. Remember Paul and Silas, worshipping in a Philippine jail, despite beaten bodies and exhausted spirits ? The one who joined Paul in praying and singing hymns with their feet in stocks and their backs aching? That, according to many, is the co-author of the letters to Thessaloniki (Hey, if my name were Silvanus I would go by Silas too.)
Sosthenes co-authored 1 Corinthians.
Tertius served as a scribe for Romans.
Some hold to the perspective that Timothy, Silvanus, Sosthenes, and Tertius served as scribes for Paul, who dictated the words for them to write down. Others believe that they were carefully-chosen endorsements to Paul’s message, which would validate the letter when it was sent on to its destination. Some hold that they were indeed full-fledged co-authors.
Regardless of which perspective you yourself have, the fact is this: These individuals were an integral part of writing and recording these epistles, and a Holy-Spirit inspired part of the New Testament.
Here’s an encouragement for this week: Don’t skip the credits. Read the acknowledgments. Seek to think of who is behind ministries and messages that you are blessed by, and send a note to let someone know that they’re making a difference. Credit is free.
Here’s to the ones who don’t mind being listed last. The ones who can teach without their name in lights or share without credit. Those who serve even when treated like a servant, and who understand that, to scope of a God-sized vision, it’s going to take more than one person.
Here’s to the ones whose names are not on the front cover and who aren’t introduced first at a dinner party. The ones who faithfully speak truth, even when the culture shifts and popularity moves on. The ones who show up week after week and year after year, loving God and loving people faithfully, regardless of who gets the credit. Don’t measure impact through recognition or even legacy. Write. Speak. Teach. Serve. There is no limit to what can be accomplished if it doesn’t matter who gets the credit. God’s memory transcends time, and He never forgets a single cup of water given in His Name.
Here’s to Sosthenes.
Here’s to Timothy.
Here’s to Tertius.
So now I want to be like Sosthenes when I grow up. To value my life in terms of what God values, and what God values through me. To wisely participate in, humbly serve, and graciously acknowledge God’s work. To be in the credits, not necessarily on the cover. Because when the credits roll at the beginning of eternity, the only thing we’ll be wanting to hear is “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
“We will have all eternity to celebrate our victories, but only a few short hours to win them.” —Amy Carmichael