Summary: Part two of study through Philippians
THE PASTOR’S POINTS
Bible Teaching Ministry of
CEDAR LODGE BAPTIST CHURCH
Dr. Russell Brownworth, Pastor
God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ--to the glory and praise of God.Philippians 1:8-11 (NIV)
So we live in a land that is severely deficient in its joy. All our technology and intelligence haven’t produced it. Owen Hanson contends that we haven’t produced civilization either: "After thousands of years, western civilization has advanced to where we bolt our doors and windows at night while jungle natives sleep in open huts."
The reality of that in our day is startling. Each night on the news we are reminded of the need to bolt those doors and windows. You can’t go on vacation to Miami anymore (without a bullet-proof vest)!! Metal detectors in the schools and at the courthouse are visible witnesses to the fear and anguish people feel.
Paul knew such conditions. His cell was a reward for faithful service to another prisoner who’d been crucified some years before. It was dark, definitely cold in the winter and sweltering in the summer. Disease and rats were close companions. Food was scarce, and there were no bathrooms. Survival was the everyday issue. Given the same conditions, the modern-day prisoner would file a lawsuit for violation of his rights. However, it isn’t Paul’s conditions that make us marvel, it is his state of mind UNDER the conditions. How could Paul maintain such a joyful attitude in the midst of so horrid a living arrangement?
Let’s talk here -- Nobody wants to live like Paul had to live. We all prefer to be pampered. Remember what the preacher said when you married? "Do you take her for richer and poorer, in sickness and health, for better, for worse...?" You said, "I do." But what you really thought was, "Richer, health and better works for me!"
How can we have the kind of genuine and lasting joy that allows us to really be joyful in all circumstances? Doesn’t that take a special kind of power? Paul’s answer is really a personal testimony. It is outlined thus:
"CHRISTIAN JOY KNOWS GENUINE LOVE, WHICH PRODUCES A CHRISTIAN LIFESTYLE WITH UNMISTAKABLE STYLE."
Whoa, Paul; slow it down -- let’s hear that in bite-sized chunks. Show us the marks of a genuine Christian lifestyle that produce genuine joy.
Partiality For God’s People
God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:8
Paul’s close relationship with Jesus gave birth to a close relationship with the ones Jesus loves. In fact, Paul said that the feelings he had for the folks at Philippi were directly from Jesus. The English word "affection" is translated from a word that is the route-source of our word "spleen". This indicates a visceral affection, a heartfelt love. William Barclay has it, "So Paul is saying: ’I yearn for you with the very compassion of Jesus Christ himself. I love you as Jesus loves you.’" Paul loved the church folks genuinely, but he couldn’t claim originality, it was Jesus who gave him this affection for them.
Christian joy is connected to genuine love. Elsewhere Barclay calls it "the love that likes too!" You can tell when there’s a sense of belonging to each other in a group. Pastor Stephen Brown expresses it, "Everybody that belongs to Jesus belongs to everybody that belongs to Jesus." The bottom line is that love is only available in the family of Christ.
That comes via the new birth, and this is a letter directed from one believer to other believers. But something else sweetened the equation -- they were also involved together in the work of spreading the gospel. There’s something special about working with people you love. For a few years our church put together a "Tour of Bethlehem". We set up a village on the church’s front lawn and the people dressed in costume; we even had a manger with a live baby, and a cross-maker, hammering on his latest consignment. The final year we did that production, help was scarce.
On the final day of preparation only Leroy Brown showed up. Leroy was 86. We worked together in the cold, drizzling rain, climbing stairs, hammering together a manger, stapling palm fronds to the "houses". At an age when most men are rocking, Leroy was still working on getting the good news out. What a gift to the body of Christ. What a privilege for me to work with him! In many ways the church of Jesus is so imperfect -- we can be stale and unappetizing at times. However, when there is genuine love for Jesus, there will be genuine love between brothers; because everyone that truly loves Jesus loves everyone that truly loves Jesus.