Thursday, May 5, 2011

Beginning of a Journey through Philippians

May 5, 2011Read Philippians one time. Wow. So much truth in one tiny book. Who were these incredible people that would inspire so much deep truth and encouragement and reminder of joy without warranting at least a few major passages of correction and rebuke? The only instruction they seemed slow to get would be “Be joyful!” Paul seems to repeat that a lot, but he commends them for so much. I can only imagine reading for the very first time, the actual words Paul sent them: “For to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” What would go through my head if he’d written that he would rather be in heaven, but for my sake he realized he needed to stay a little while longer. For my sake? The idea that anyone would love me enough to consciously desire to stay on earth not for his own sake but for mine, staggers my imagination. They get it. They understand Paul’s vision of the Gospel and ministry and they are part of that. They are his partners in the Gospel from the very first day right up to the time that he is writing. He prays for them like a caring older brother. He prays for their love to abound. He yearns for them with the affection of Christ Jesus. They are both partakers of the same grace. That is true unity. Gathering together in the name of Jesus can bring a unity that this world cannot comprehend. Knowing Christ intimately, and sharing that with a group of other believers, cannot be easily replaced. It is a prize to be treasured and guarded closely, clutched tightly against the chest and never given away. This unity, this bond in Christ, it’s not a Sunday afternoon picnic with fried chicken and potato salad. It’s not a “fellowship dinner” setup in a “fellowship hall” which includes primarily eating together and perhaps discussing favorite sports teams, family recipes, or the latest stories of what the kids are doing these days. This fellowship runs deep, as chosen, special children of the Almighty God. This is a blood relationship. We are all equally purchased by one blood. We are in one blood line. 
      We have been given a new citizenship, we can truly say that “To live is Christ…” because He is the only One worth devoting an entire life to. He is the ultimate satisfaction of a life well-spent. There is no higher pursuit and no deeper bond, than the unity of the body of Christ. To find our satisfaction and fulfillment in Him is the highest prize we can be given. Our lives should be all about Christ. That is the reason we put off heaven indefinitely. It is not so we can accumulate heavenly rewards for ourselves, or wait long enough to make a name for ourselves among the angels. We wait because while we are here…it is Christ. But we can also say “…to die is gain.” There is no fear of death, no dread of the grave. Ultimately there is no sting. To die is to gain heaven in the presence of our God, our Papa. To live is good, to live is to serve, to share, to go where the Gospel isn’t, but how much better the prize—to finally go where the Gospel IS…