Sunday, November 19, 2023
Paul's Christian friends in Philippi were very precious to him. The Philippians were one of the very few churches Paul allowed to support him financially.  He visited their house churches every opportunity he had as he traveled the Mediterranean.  As we read Paul's letter to the Philippians and Luke's account of the planting of Jesus' church in Philippi in Acts 16, we meet memorable people like Lydia and her household who Paul baptized;  Silas and Timothy, Paul's fellow mission workers;  a jailer and his family who became believers and were baptized;  Euodia, Syntyche, and Clement, who were evangelists and coworkers with Paul;  Epaphroditus, a representative of the Philippian church sent to help Paul;  unnamed prisoners locked up with Paul and Silas;  and, a slave girl with a fortune-telling spirit and her exploitive owners .  The diverse group from very different levels of society made up the Philippian church. When we add the differences between Jews and Gentiles to their challenges, the Philippian believers faced a challenging array of people, personalities, prejudices, and preferences.
How do you hold together a group like this diverse Philippian church?
How do you keep people from fussing and fighting about their preferences and prejudices?
You point to Jesus, seek to model Jesus, and call people to be like Jesus in His self-surrender of His rights and privileges to serve others. Paul appears to have done this in a very creative way. Scholars recognize our words in today's relationship verses as part of a song that early Christians sang. Paul quotes it as the antidote to selfishness and division threatening the church. The Lord Jesus, who emphasized that He "came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many"  must be our example.
Paul followed Jesus' footsteps in providing a similar model.  Now, it is up to you and me to follow their example in a world absorbed in self-interest. Jesus must be our standard, not our personalities, prejudices, and preferences!
Father, forgive us — and forgive me — for the many times we have fussed and fought over our druthers * for church and how "church should be done." Jesus, we are sorry for how our personalities, prejudices, and preferences have created problems and divisions in our congregations. Holy Spirit, as You transform us to become like Jesus ^ and develop the fruit of righteousness @ in our lives, mold our hearts to reflect our Lord's lifestyle of sacrificial service. We pray we reflect Your unity as Father, Son, and Spirit in our fellowship. Amen.
Together in Christ is a daily devotional that focuses on what Scripture teaches about godly living in relationships.
'Together in Christ' is written by Phil Ware.
Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
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