Every Time I Remember You

I thank my God every time I remember you.  In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.  Philippians 1:3-6.

What would it be like for us to this kind of praise from Paul?  The Philippians gave him joy, there’s no doubt about that but to be so praiseworthy…wow!

But what was it about them that made him so proud to know them?

Their partnership in the work in the gospel.

It was at Philippi that Paul cast the familiar spirit out of the slave girl, then, because of this, he and Silas were beaten and thrown in the stocks, and where they sang songs of praise for being counted worthy to suffer for the sake of Jesus.  It was also there they experienced the miracle of an earthquake opening all the prison doors and breaking the stocks which held them.  The jailer and his whole family gave themselves to Christ because of this.  Once the town magistrates found out that both Paul and Silas were Roman citizens they tried to get them to leave quietly, though Paul refused.  The first converts in this Roman colony, by the way, were women, whom the two apostles met by the river outside of town.

It’s easy to see how attached Paul could become to these people who were so sincere in their Savior and faithful in their lives.  Certain experiences bind people together for life; the earthquake must have been one of these things.

Taken in context with the rest of the passage, the promise He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus takes on a special meaning to the Philippians.  God came into these people’s lives in very unmistakable way—one which would tend to make anybody dedicated for life.  You don’t see miracles or hear a message as beautiful and hopeful as the gospel and not respond.  The work God had begun was to renew a relationship with them through bringing them into harmony with Himself.  There is no greater work than that of oneness with the Heart of heaven.

This promise should bring us a certain amount of security, for its very premise builds confidence in the Lord’s intentions towards us.  If God began the work, He will be the one to finish it.  Our part in this whole process is to be actively submissive to His work and will.  From experience, I can tell you neither one of those is easy for me; submission to anyone’s will but my own is a tough pill to swallow.  I find some of the work He does quite painful for it demands change and, like everyone else, I thrive on the security of sameness in many ways.  On the other hand, He also reveals His will, which also comes as a painful shock to the system.  While I enjoy the love of God when it makes me feel good about myself, His work reveals places where I am outside of His will…it just doesn’t feel right.

If we are going to grow in Christ, the only way to this head space is submission—as one of my pastors broke the word down:  “coming under His mission.”  We cannot belong to Christ and the world at the same time.  We can be in the world but not of it; part of world experience but not the cause of its wrong.  The Name by which we are known, Christians, is derived from the root word Christ.  If we are called by His name, we must be like Him otherwise the name means nothing and is nothing to us but window dressing.

The good news, of course, is that we don’t begin the work nor do we finish it; God does this.

I’m glad someone responsible is taking charge of our lives…

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