Paul opens the book of Philippians with a greeting: “From Paul and Timothy, both of us servants of Jesus, the Anointed One. To all his devoted followers in Philippi, including pastors, and to all the servant-leaders of the church, for you are all wrapped into Christ. May the blessings of divine grace and supernatural peace that flow from God our wonderful Father, and our Messiah, the Lord Jesus, be upon your lives.” Paul thought of Timothy as his spiritual son, they are writing to the church of Philippi, they worked together in building the church.
Paul described himself as a bond-servant, even though he was considered an apostle and a very strong leader in the Christian community. He knew that being humble and meek was a requirement when working together with others. So, he positioned himself as the love-slave of Jesus. When he addresses the church, he is addressing it more as an entity rather than a location, which is not to say he wasn’t thinking of a specific church for he knew that all churches need believers, and leaders to be successful. Still, his overall focus is not the leaders, but the people and who God wants them to be.
The churches I have attended tend to paint Paul as a bit of a hard-nosed, harsh, unlikeable kind of guy, but I beg to differ. From what I can see in scripture he is the opposite. He is full of gratitude (even when in prison) and joy! He does not swim in self-pity. He holds others close to his heart and thinks lovingly towards them. He sees the people in his life as those that work together from the moment he presented the gospel to them. Not only is Philippians a book of joy, as I wrote about in “The Joy Manual” but it is also a thank you letter from Paul to the followers of Jesus. The moment these people heard the gospel they gave unwavering support to Paul. They partnered with him in sharing the Good News of Jesus and embraced grace. They prayed for each other and for Paul. They financially supported him and his ministry.
They were in partnership, which means they actively participated in fellowship, they shared things in common, they stood together through adversity. This not only brought Paul joy but all involved. They cherished each other.
Paul believed that God would finish all that he started: “…I’m fully convinced that the One who began this glorious work of grace in you will faithfully continue the process of maturing you and will complete it at the unveiling of our Lord Christ!” What do you think? Are you fully convinced that God will finish all that He has started in you? Will he finish all that has been started in your community, your friendships, your family? Will his grace and faith be complete in all that you do? Will the transformation in your life grow you into a mature fellowship with him and others?
God has started a process in each of us. This process of working together through him. When Christ is unveiled, we too are unveiled. Nothing can stop this. God works for our salvation, God works in us for our sanctification, and God works through us as we serve each other and work together. Salvation is a work of God, completely and wholly. Our job? We thank, we praise, we work together with others, we support, we love, we believe. And, by doing this, salvation is “worked out” into our daily lives. Wow! “God will continually revitalize you, implanting within you the passion to do what pleases him.” Philippians 2:13
Paul’s heart was like that of a Father. He loved others so much that there was a bond that kept them all close, no matter what. He interceded for others, believing that Christ would certainly be unveiled in each of their lives. His connection with his heavenly Father was so tight that love wrapped around all those in connection with him. God gave him the desire to carry others deep within his heart and to see the beauty of Jesus in them. God gave him the desire to work together with them through all circumstances.
As the Bride of Christ we are in partnership with each other. We are called to hold each other deep within our hearts, to support, love and walk alongside each other. We are to be fully confident that our partnership with each other will unveil the work of Jesus, and Jesus will sanctify His Body and complete all that he has started. Let us love each other as Paul loved; “Only God knows how much I dearly love you with the tender affection of Jesus, the Anointed One.” verse 8
Let the tender affection of Jesus be unveiled in us today as we work together in partnership with each other.3