Another passage full of lots of great stuff…so here’s just a few of my thoughts!
We are one:
The first few verses are calling for agreement within the church. Earlier on in the letter Paul says
“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” (Phil 2:1-4)
I think too often as a church we can get caught up in theological debates and lose sight of what it’s all about. Aren’t we called to love one another rather than tear each other down over differing opinions? I think it’s important to wrestle through scripture together and work it out but if we’re honest is that always what we have in mind when we’re battling our own opinion on someone else? What kind of example does that set to the world around us? We are called to be selfless, Christ like! A pretty high bar but isn’t that what we’re aiming for? And I think that includes our attitude to the church as well as the world around us.
Rejoice!!! Paul says it twice! This is a clue that he thinks it’s important! I read it as a plea from him to the church to remember the joy that they have in Christ. Do we remember our joy in Christ? Are we continuing to rejoice about how Christ has transformed our lives?
A Peace that doesn’t make sense:
Peace that transcends all understanding. This verse brought a new level of meaning to me this week. It’s been a tough week for some of our youth who are dealing with the death of a friend. What does this peace mean to them? What does it mean to the family of the teenage boy who died of cancer? Does it mean anything? Is it just empty words? I think Paul recognises that life isn’t always easy…that sometimes it is unbearably hard. He says bring it to God (vs 6). The amazing thing about the gospel of Jesus Christ is that we have a God who knows our suffering. He’s not distant but he shares in it with us by dying on the cross. But the good news is we can also share in his joy! Paul calls it a peace that transcends all understanding because it doesn’t make sense to be peaceful in some situations. But Jesus through his Holy Spirit brings it to us…isn’t that amazing? He says it will guard your hearts.
I think it’s easy in tough situations to feel discontented…. it’s easy to maybe get angry with God and it’s in these places that the enemy can get in and steal our joy. We read yesterday about the armour of God…we need to be equipping ourselves. We need to be guarding our hearts. We need to rejoice in all circumstances so that the enemy can’t get in. Paul says focus on what is good! (vs 8-9) Think about such things and the God of peace will be with you! Because if we are full of Joy about what God has done in our lives then even when things go bad the enemy can’t draw us away. The enemy of God works in subtle ways, he slowly changes our hearts but we need to guard our hearts.
Paul recognises that life is hard…he was persecuted, he was imprisoned, he was shipwrecked he knows what it is suffer. Jesus knows what it is to suffer. And so Paul pleas with the church to remember to rejoice! We have so much to be thankful for…lets keep speaking out those things to each other. Lets share stories of the good things Jesus has done. As Bryony talked about on Sunday night lets keep learning to be amazed by God!
Let’s not complain. Let’s be God’s people who rejoice about the good things in life and a people that help each other through the tough times…how amazing a witness would that be to the world around us?