Summary: Paul’s letter to the Philippians has some good ’fatherly advice’ for all of us and our churches, too
Sermon: Fatherly Advice...
Scripture: Philippians - Various
Today, our Scripture is from Philippians. This book in the Bible doesn’t seem to get as much attention as Matthew, Mark, Luke or John. But it holds for us some very valuable teachings from Paul, as he was writing this letter to the church at Philippi. This Christian church at Philippi became one of Paul’s closest and dearest Christian communities.
So, as I was preparing the sermon for this morning, I became interested in the times and the city of Philippi, as it does have quite a history. So, I thought I would share a little of what I read.
The city of Philippi sits close to the Aegean Sea in the southern region of Macedonia. At one time it was known for the gold mining that was in the area. After 400 BC, Phillip II of Macedon seized the mines, fortified the city and named it for himself. Phillipi, along with the rest of Macedonia, soon came under Roman rule in the pursuing decades.
Because of the wealth that came from this city and the advantages of its location, Philippi became a very important metropolis and eventually the leading city in that district of Macedonia.
After the ministry of our Lord, Jesus Christ and then after the conversion of Saul, who then became the Apostle Paul, we see through Paul’s letters, written to these small emerging communities of faith the struggles that each of these churches were dealing with...the obstacles of keeping true to the teachings of Jesus...and the problems of becoming a body of believer’s and staying faithful to those teachings.
From its birth, the church in Philippi had two strikes against it. Its first recorded converts were an Asiatic Jewish merchant, named Lydia, a Greek slave girl employed as a sideshow fortune-teller, and a gruff Roman jailer. Yet more than a decade after the beginning of this church, Paul, when writing to them could hardly find words warm enough to express his pride and affection.
Three dedicated believers, who after hearing the Truth, and accepting the Truth, became separated out from the surrounding community...a community that was worldly...a community that was pagan and filled with the same evil characteristics that we can still see today in our world. These three born-again believers stayed true to all that Paul taught them about the Way of our Lord and then reached out to bring others to believe, too.
You see, some of the churches of Jesus Christ of that time had fallen far short of the ideals that Paul had entrusted to them...so far short that they seemed to have forgotten what the Church of Jesus Christ was supposed to look like and act like. Problems existed from the very beginning. Paul’s letters to Galatia, Corinth and Colosse seem to flame with indignation over the defects of these churches.
Occasionally, however, a church came along that worked, and against all odds. The church at Philippi was one of these rare congregations. They had endeared themselves to Paul and Paul in Philippians 1: 3 said, “I thank my God every time I remember you.” Paul loved this church because they did not fail him or his expectations for Christ’s church.