Paul had planted the first Christian church in Europe in the town of Philippi, in the region of northeastern Greece known as Macedonia. Paul’s letter to the Philippian church is very upbeat & encouraging, despite his being confined in a Roman minimum security prison (320). How could this be?
- First, Paul affirms his belief that God never takes a day off. In the lives of individual believers & in the life of the church, God continues faithfully to use every circumstance — even Paul’s imprisonment — for his divine purposes, .
- Second, Paul can no longer imagine his life apart from Jesus. Whether he lives or dies, whether he is on earth or in heaven, Paul is totally OK with whatever God wants to do with him, just as Jesus was.
Paul portrays the “mind of Christ” as thinking of others before thinking of ourselves.
In essence, this is what Jesus did when he gave up the independent use of his divine powers for three decades, in order to live on the earth as a man among men. Jesus is our best model for humbly surrendering ourselves to God.
Ultimately, Paul continues, all people — living & dead — will acknowledge Jesus as God. Until that day, our part as believers is to shine brightly for God in this dark world. No matter how great the darkness becomes, the Holy Spirit gives believers greater power to continue shining brightly. With Jesus, we can do anything.
Paul testifies that he has forsaken all in this world in order to devote himself completely to his job for Jesus. He keeps his eyes fixed on the heavenly prize of life that will continue beyond his physical death.
From this eternal perspective, Paul exhorts the Philippians to rejoice as well, in every circumstance. This can only be done by referring everything to Jesus. Pray about everything, seek the mind of Christ about everything, Paul says.
Focus on the positive things that God is doing in the world, instead of focusing on the negative things that the world inflicts on itself.
But, even in negative circumstances, Paul asserts that he has learned how to be content, always by relying on Jesus. With Jesus, we can do anything.
(320) Philippians 1-4