1 Therefore, my beloved brethren a whom I long to see, my joy and crown, so stand firm in the Lord, my beloved.
2 I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord.
3 Indeed, true comrade, I ask you also to help these women who have shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel, together with Clement also, and the rest of my a fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.
-Paul has quite an affection for these believers
-There are a couple of people who need to do some reconciling
-He calls on others to help in that process.
-Our names are in the "book of life."
And now things are about to get practical. So stand firm in the Lord. After all that has been said previously now it is time to act on what we know. And what should we do? Stand. Stand firm. Not march into a battle, for that has already been won. Not retreat from the enemy, for he has already been defeated. No need to fear, Jesus has it ALL under control. What He needs me to do is stand firm in what I know. This is not a stand that is marked by doubt, it is not a warm fuzzy feeling without any depth, it is a stand borne of all that has come before in Paul's letter.
Do you ever consider how much our attitudes towards other believers affects the church? This next verse in Philippians leaves no doubt in my mind that you and I must work to maintain unity. We have to do more than give lip service to unity. Paul makes an issue of it here in a most gentle admonition to a group of people he loved dearly, to two ladies in particular. It is a good message for all of us as well. No one really knows what was going on with these two women...but if it was not impacting the unity of the local body in Philippi there would be no reason for Paul to address it in this letter. I find it interesting that Paul does not take sides, he pleads with Euodia and he pleads with Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord. The New King James translates this "to be of the same mind in the Lord." And Paul pleads with "my true comrade" as well to help these women, and as this letter was read before the church it is also a plea with the church to work with these women to live in harmony or to be of the same mind that was in Christ.
What does it mean to be of the same mind? It is an interesting phrase that Paul has used earlier in his letter. Paul has been laying that out for us as well. Let me take you back to Philippians 2:1-4.
Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, (Let this mind be in you that was also in Christ Jesus) who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
When we walk into church on Sunday, it is not enough just to join in worship with other believers, there is an attitude, a way of thinking that needs to dominate our interactions with other believers. In His word God is calling us to have the same mind as Christ. That means that there is love, fellowship, affection, mercy or compassion...we are a people that need to be of the same mind, the same love, the same spirit, intent on one purpose. We do nothing out of selfishness, but consider the other believers in our midst as more important than ourselves. Imagine a church where the people are not looking out for "number one" but place the rest of the body of Christ above their own needs/desires. Imagine a church where the members take the form of bond-servants and are obedient to God even to the point of death. Do you think a church like that could ever exist? Paul is saying that if we live as we should that this is what the church should look like.
Ever catch yourself thinking badly of another woman at church? Gossiping about her to others? Tearing her down behind her back? What do you think this does to unity in the body of Christ? We have got to learn to live in harmony, but we don't really teach how to go about that these days. We say things like, "we will agree to disagree," but really, what a cop-out. That is not true unity, that is simply hiding from the hard work that needs to be done. (Deep down inside you are still grumbling about that poor soul and how wrong they are in your eyes. Or what about the very prevalent thought I often hear expressed that goes something like, "I may be called to love others in the church but that does not mean I need to like every one of them." Can you imagine those kinds of words coming from Jesus?!
Oh this train of thought is proving to be very convicting this morning. I need to be crystal clear on one point, this letter is not about our relationships with non-believers. The true church does not have any non-believers in it; the true church is made up of people who profess their faith in Jesus; in His death and the power of His resurrection. (As a side note; I think that this is what our local churches should be as well, instead we try to make them into something that would attract people outside the faith and in doing so we have really "dumbed-down" our message and stopped preaching the types of sermons that really help us all to grow in our knowledge and understanding. We have been pulled into the world's point of view that we need to be entertaining, our pastors need to be able to deliver good jokes to keep us laughing along the way. We are a people who still want milk rather than meat...I better not get started on that right now.)
As the time drew near for Jesus to die on the cross He prayed these wonderful words for us all: “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me. (Matthew 17:20-23, NASB) This is just a portion of Jesus' prayer and it is well worth reading and making a part of our own prayers. The first step in my application of the call to unity begins here: in God's Word, in prayer. This is another one of those prayers that I think God will be delighted to answer and so I totally expect that a lot of application is about to become reality as I ask that He make me of one mind, that He give me that attitude that does not have to seek my own way. There are some things that I absolutely will not compromise; matters of key doctrine that cannot be compromised...that is not the kind of dispute that Paul was addressing here for we know he would have addressed such things head on.) No, I believe that the issues facing these two women who have labored with Paul in the Gospel were probably more like the things that we continue to do to one another as women today. It may start as a little thing, but lets not fool ourselves on what those little things can do to the whole body and its witness to the world. Let us be women who strive towards unity. And let us keep in mind the bigger picture..."so that the world may believe."
Grace, Peace, and Mercy
Philippians 3:20-21, NASB
20) For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ;
21 who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory,by
the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.
-we are citizens of heaven
-Jesus will transform us with a new body.
-Jesus has power over everything. Everything in heaven and earth bows to His will.
Since it has been awhile, let me review a bit, in my last post, Philippians 3:17-19, I talked about the difference between those who walk with God and those who "walk according to the pattern of the world." Now Paul is moving us on to why our lives our different from those who follow the world's pattern.
It has struck me this morning that Paul says we "eagerly wait for a Savior." Hmmmm, I do not know about you but I did not wake up today thinking about Jesus' return. I woke up thinking, "Do I really have to get up now... the sun is not even up yet" I stumbled into the bathroom to get myself ready before our carpool left for work. I made my cup of tea and settled down at the computer to see what awaited my at my office and away we went with the start of a new semester. Now I sit here reading these words, "we eagerly wait." I wonder- when was the last time I even thought about Christ's return-probably one night looking up at the stars. I hear people mention Christ's return when life is not going too well...but I get the impression from Paul's words that this is not the way it should be. Would this morning have looked differently if I had awakened with a sense that it could be today. Would I have grumbled and reluctantly drug myself out of bed. How would my day look if I eagerly approached it because I was waiting for Christ's return? Would I make different choices? Would I hesitate to share the Gospel with those who cross my path? Would I hesitate to stop and help a person in need along my way? Would I fear what might come?
We are so far removed from those early Christians that I think we have become almost immune to such thoughts. I am already making plans for our next summer vacation in 2014. Yes, I will add that little tagline, "Lord willing" to my plans....but has it become just that...a tagline? Not sure I want to give that idea too much thought as other things I say without really thinking come to mind, even the Amen's I put at the end of my prayers are giving me pause...do I really think about what that means or is it just a period I place on the end to signify I am finished? (Amen (aleph-mem-nun) means to be firm, confirmed, reliable, faithful, have faith, believe.)
What does a life look like that is eagerly waiting for the return of our Lord? Clearly, because of the preceding verses, it will have an impact on our daily walk. It is also a statement of faith, for if Christ is to return it means He is indeed resurrected, He is alive....everything I believe hangs on that wonderful truth. It means that when when suffering or persecution come I am not afraid, Jesus is coming back, one way or the other I will be in His presence. This life is temporary and full of trouble but we can face it with courage because Jesus has overcome the world. (John 16:33, "These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.") I like that. It is easy to say this now. Life is comfortable and I am not facing any tribulation, no troubles, no persecution. I sometimes wonder if it is on its way with the way things are going in the USA and within the churches that populate our land.
Whatever comes...the good, the bad, the ugly....my mind needs to remember these things. Jesus is coming, it could be at any moment. How eagerly am I waiting? He has the power to transform me and my way of thinking. Everything is under His authority; that is what it means when Paul says Jesus has the power to subject all things to Himself. All things. That is why Paul and Peter and and many others could praise God from their prison cells; could praise God when they were being beaten and stoned and facing whatever horrors the world threw at them. If this world is all there is then we are living our lives in vain. If Christ was not raised from the dead then all of this is meaningless. For my part, I believe what the Bible has to say because I believe that it is indeed God's word to man, not just another book. I believe that Jesus was resurrected on that glorious day. And I intend to walk with Him through this life. I want my days to be filled with eager anticipation of Christ's return. I want to see what a life lived that way looks like. There is so much transforming yet to be done in my life, in my heart and mind and soul, and I am kind of excited about what that means for me as I continue down the path towards the future.
Grace, Peace and Mercy dear friends,
I am a woman with a Mary heart and these are my musings as I read and study God's Word
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