I began my study of Philippians last week with the first chapter. By reading the entire chapter first and then studying each section, I was able to gain a deeper understanding of what Paul, the writer, was trying to convey. And with this understanding, I think a lot of us who claim Christ, especially in the Western church, have missed the boat on discipling new believers. I’ll explain what I mean in a minute. First, though, I’ll discuss what I learned in each section.
The first two sections are where Paul greets the Philippian believers and gives thanks for them. I don’t believe we speak enough positive affirmation into the lives of other believers. God wants us to though; He wants us to live in community with one another, and using Scripture to speak affirmation is something, I believe, God planned when He gave us His Word. Verses 3 – 6 are especially good for this.
“I give thanks to my God for every remembrance of you, always praying with joy for all of you in my every prayer, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
This section and the next also talk about how we are to always pray for one another and encourage each other in our growth as believers. We are not to just pray for each other in serious situations. We are to pray for each other always. I have to admit I am not always the best at this. I have to work constantly on not thinking about myself all of the time and thinking of others instead. It is a constant battle, but one that Christ will help us with if we only ask.
In the next section, Paul speaks of his imprisonment and how it is in the cause of Christ. Most of us today, especially in the Western world, wouldn’t have that attitude about being imprisoned. We don’t understand that we need to proclaim Christ through our storm. I will admit this is hard for me though I’ve come to a greater understanding of why we’re supposed to do this over the last few years.
This understanding was cemented by my reading of the last two sections. Paul is encouraging the Philippians to be firm in their faith and to work together, to live in community. He says we will suffer in this life, but that God wants us to know we are NOT alone. We are never alone. And because of this understanding, I claim Philippians 1:20 as one of my life verses.
“My eager expectation and hope is that I will not be ashamed about anything , but that now as always, with all boldness, Christ will be highly honored in my body, whether by life or by death.”
Now, after I have explained all of this, let me explain what I meant at the beginning of this post. I think we miss the mark on accepting new believers into our faith communities and explaining what that really means. The emphasis on individualism in the Western world is not how Christ wants us to live. He wants our faith family to be just as much family to one another as our blood family. This requires a fundamental shift in our attitudes especially with those in our faith families who are different than us. I pray my understanding of how to live in a community of believers will continue to grow.
God’s blessings on you today!