Philippians Day Six
September 25, 2020, 5:00 AM

Better Together
Philippians 1:25-27

I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith,
so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus,
because of my coming to you again.
Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ,
so that whether I come and see you or am absent,
I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit,
with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel…

To this point in both pulpit and blog, I have suggested that the pervasive theme of Philippians is heavenly citizenship— Making that loyalty weightier. I think it’s apparent this church ranks exceedingly high in the apostle’s affections, for they received the Gospel heartily – exemplified in Lydia, her friends and household at the Zygakti River, along with the Jailer and his family. They, despite being a poorer church, supported Paul throughout his ministry with selfless, sacrificial giving. Other Pauline churches, particularly in Thessalonica and Corinth, were demonstrably wealthier and better placed, and could have bled generosity, but did not open their hearts very wide in that respect. In fact, Paul has to scold-out the Corinthians to finish the collection begun, but not completed for the poor saints in Jerusalem (cf. 2 Cor. 9). Philippi, though, is a good church and a special church.

However, there is an issue that needs tweaking in Philippi. Paul teases it out in the featured passage today: “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ [citizenship thing], so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in ONE spirit, with ONE mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel.” There it is in bold: You need to be Together. You need to be One. You are the Body of Christ – not the spare, independent, ready-for-divorce, faux Bride of Christ. The Church of Jesus is not made up of spiritual lone rangers. Apparently, there was some measure of dissension in the church (cf. 4:2-3). Not Corinthian-esque level stuff, but still needing to be called upon.

The subsequent verses beginning chapter two, which we will cover this Sunday in the pulpit, confirms this interpretation: (2:1-2) “So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love [*from God the Father], any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.” (*cf. 2 Cor. 13:14) I love how one commenter unpacks this thought: “Where would the Philippians be without the support received in Christ, the comfort conveyed in love, the fellowship enjoyed through the Spirit, the compassion and kindness extended by God [the Father], and through God to one another? How can the gospel bear fruit if the faithful fail to be of one heart and one mind? And how can they be of the same mind if they do not live together in unity, concord, and peace (cf. 1 Cor. 1:10)?” (George Hunsinger, Philippians, Brazos Press, 2020, p.33). He concludes, “A life worthy of the gospel demands unity in the ranks.” Here’s a meaty inference from this thought— In a sense, the love and support and fellowship that works so effortlessly and joyfully within the Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, ought to work within/among His people. Philippi was not in need of a theological upbraid – just an in-service training of who they were in Jesus: They are citizens with higher and holier loyalties. Reflect that reality!

Now, Paul might expend many profound words explicating the basis for being good citizens. But he does something much more effective. He uses the living example of the Lord Jesus Christ to showcase the mindset of heavenly citizenship— (2:5) “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus…” And if the mindset of Jesus is lived into, the besetting, nagging personality tiffs rife in Philippi, will dissipate.

We are speaking of humility. This will be a tough sell. This is a tough sell in any century! The late Supreme Court Justice, Oliver Wendell Holmes once astutely observed, “Humility is the first of the virtues — for other people.” And so it is, for thee, but not for me. This is where we are headed on Sunday, and further unpacking in next week’s blog. Until then, have a wonderful weekend, and uplifting worship on this coming Lord’s Day!

By the way, on a completely different, and much more personal note, this is the 100th blog entry since the global pandemic (and a certain beloved elder) nudged me into working consistently through this medium. Thank you for partaking of these random thoughts. I don’t know who all of you are, but I see your footprints. God Bless!

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