Partnership in the Gospel
Paul and Timothy find themselves writing a letter from prison to encourage all of God’s holy people in Philippi. They’re in a season of life that they could be responding to very differently if they wanted because they’re in chains, their freedom has been taken away, and it’s very likely they are experiencing terrible prison conditions. But despite all of this, they see their chains as chains for Christ because it gives them a chance to let the Jesus-love inside of them overflow more and more towards those imprisoning them.
It gives them a chance to speak words of Jesus-knowledge and express a Jesus-understanding of life to those who’ve taken them captive. It’s a moment of persecution that Paul and Timothy knows Jesus can redeem and they’re writing to the Church in Philippi to encourage them that the most important thing in life is to be people filled with Jesus-love, Jesus-knowledge, and Jesus-understanding because all of this leads to God creating and redeeming new life in the world.
So what does that mean for us today? Much I think but I feel I can only tell you what it means for myself. I feel like I live in a country of Christians cancered with a thirst for power. It’s a terminal illness killing us. When trouble comes our way, common response seems to be a grab for power. The mantra is that if we just get the right leaders in the right places at the right time in our political sphere then we can take over and make things right in our country and give it back to God.
I wonder what would happen if by some miracle, we put that line of thinking on hold and chose to respond like Paul and Timothy instead? Embracing the lack of being in control knowing that it’s an opportunity for Jesus-shaped love and knowledge and understanding to overflow from our lives into the lives of those who would rather take us captive and imprison us rather than deal with us. Could it be that by embracing chains as chains of Christ that the world around us discovers life in undiscovered ways?