This series jumps straight into the life of the Philippian church. What do we know of it, from this letter so far?
Imagine yourself a new believer in the church in Philippi; perhaps you are the member of a household whose leader has come to follow Jesus; or you yourself are slowly accepting that Jesus is actually the Son of God. You know Jesus has restored you to a loving relationship with God. Your life has been changed. But, you can’t quiet the thoughts: We are in a tough situation at the moment. Some believers have lost their livelihood because we are considered strange. Many people are not sure we can be trusted. And believers are frequently persecuted. Paul says in his letter that we need to ‘stand firm’ in this relationship with God. What does he mean?
A Philippian believer: “Paul writes to us from prison. He encourages us to remember all Jesus has done for us, and the brand- new life we have in him. He talks very practically about this.
“Amazingly, he says he loves us and longs for us, that we are his joy and crown, and urges us to stand firm in the Lord.
“It seems one of ways we need stand firm, is in our relationships with other believers. My friends Euodia and Syntyche have been arguing over something – I have no idea what! Yet they and Clement are the ones who told me about Jesus! They have been so helpful to us. They have been so, so patient, they persevere in answering all our questions and…. there are plenty of them! They explained what Jesus has done for us and prayed with us. They showed us how to live as followers of Jesus. They love us and want every person in our town hear about Jesus and accept him as their Lord.
“Paul says they must be of the same mind in the Lord. I suppose Paul is asking them to forgive each other, and to remember the peace and unity they have in Jesus. Of course, as I hear this, I realise we all need to do the same.”
A few thoughts for us…
- What is the core of my issue with a person in my workplace, Bible study group, family, other? We will have differences – attitudes, how we understand God’s word, how we worship, hundreds of things. But – where is our common ground? And how can we agree to disagree, graciously?
- How do I respond to this passage? Who around me needs to hear the good news, and who desperately needs words of comfort and encouragement, to stand firm, and persevere in Jesus through tough times? Ask God how you can encourage them.
Prayer: Father, I am so thankful for Jesus. Thank you for the amazing riches you give me, when you bring me into relationship with you. Thank you for your life, death and resurrection. Please help me always remember what you have done for me. Please help me to be a person of peace, willing to ‘give the benefit of the doubt’, to initiate reconciliation, and not wait for the other person to. To extend peace, and to forgive fully – no buts…Amen.