Philippians – Life together
“… fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.” Philippians 2:2
The Church in Philippi had an unusual beginning which we find in Acts 16. It seems Paul was headed to Asia when the Holy Spirit somehow prevented him. Then, Paul had a vision of a man from Macedonia, a region in Southern Europe, calling to Paul to come and help them. Paul left immediately.
Philippi in these days was like a miniature Rome with ornate, imposing architecture, opulent living and not a big religious presence. Paul and his cohort located a place by the riverside that locals gathered for prayer so that’s where they went to tell people about Jesus. A certain woman named Lydia heard their testimony and believed. She and her household were baptized and invited the disciples to her home.
Later Paul and the brothers with him were arrested for disturbing the peace and were beaten with rods and tossed in jail, secured with stocks and chains like hardened criminals. As the story goes they were singing and praising God late into the night when a great earthquake rocked the prison and all the prisoners chains were loosed and cells were open.
The jailer, realizing the situation, considered suicide rather than facing the implications of all the prisoners escaping over night. But Paul called to him from the dungeon and said, “Hey, don’t worry, we’re all here.” The jailer ran down with a light and found all the prisoners there with Paul. The jailer was moved to repentance, believing the power of God, and was baptized, him and his whole household.
Such were the beginnings of the first church in Europe, the Church in Philippi. From two families they would become very instrumental in Pauls ministry and among Christian groups they didn’t even know personally as they gave generously from what God supplied, whether a little or a lot.
And this is what we learn from Philippians, that the Christian life should be more than a personal belief system, it should be a shared dynamic – a communion of life, relationship, service and worship.
”for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;” (1:5-6)
God’s work is both individual and corporate, the good work He is doing is in our midst, in the body, this is the work He is going to complete. It is possible only when individuals can humble themselves and truly serve.
“… fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” Philippians 2:2-4
First, being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord and one mind – these admonitions infer truly knowing one another, usually this is the first missing piece. Then, serving without selfishness or arrogance, but in humility considering others better than ourselves. This is taking our eyes off of ourselves, denying our flesh to serve others.
Our society is cocooning more than ever. Like countless little caterpillars we busy ourselves spinning sealed-off lives that are seemingly self-sufficient. And the more self-reliant we become the more security we convince ourselves that we have. But our little silken fortresses aren’t nearly as impregnable as we think.
Without people, a community or tribe, without family or trusted friends, without a like-minded community of believers that will drop everything and come to you – and at the same time know you would do the same for them – our actual security is imagined at best.
Consider your life. What would happen if, like Job, you lost everything? Your job, your cell phone, your internet, your home, your family, your health… If you walk down that path very far you realize that our lives are extremely fragile and a belonging community of Christ is the best and really, only, safeguard against total destitution.
Then, consider the millions of people around the world that are already there. They’ve lost or never had any of the things we take for granted and just exist from day to day without hope. They don’t have a safety net. Think of the broken families, single parents and children trying to cope with impossible circumstances, people with disabilities, the hurting and hungry right outside our doors. Who will help them?
Dear ones, the message of Philippians is that joy in life, true fulfillment, comes to us through selfless generosity, unity, humility, and living life together. Try, today, to see the world through different eyes, then, tell someone close to you what you observe, and ask the Lord about becoming part of the solution.
“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus…” Philippians 2:5