Paul was in prison for his faith. While in prison he wrote to the community of Christians in Philippi (in ancient Macedonia, now modern Greece). What he wrote was not full of himself, full of his trials and tribulations. What he wrote was full of love and joy – love for Jesus, joy in him; love for the Philippians, joy in them.
Out of his love and joy, he wrote to encourage the Philippian Christians, to help them grow in heart, mind, and spirit. He prayed that their love would overflow more and more with knowledge and deep insight. He prayed for them to mature in Jesus, in purity and excellence of life. Thus they would produce a harvest of spiritual good for the benefit of others, all to the glory and praise of God.
How easy it is for us to view Jesus – to view church and church-going – as just another set of components in an already too-full life. Our life is an accumulation of many things, many affiliations, many desires. How easy it is to see Jesus as just one more of them. How easy it is to view church and church-going as just two more things among many other affiliations and activities.
But Jesus did not live and die and rise to be just one more person, thing, or idea in our life. It is difficult to believe Paul would have endured hardships, imprisonments, sufferings, and death for Jesus – if Jesus were just one more component in an otherwise full life. It is difficult to believe Paul would have labored among and written to the Philippians to exhort them to give their lives to Jesus – to abounding love, full knowledge, deep insight, and a harvest of righteousness – were Jesus just another good among many other possible goods.
Jesus is the beginning and end of life – savior and lord of life. He is origin and completion of all good in life. May we pray for ourselves and for others as Paul prayed for the Philippians – for Jesus to overflow in knowledge and depth and righteousness and love in our lives, all to the glory and praise of God.