We need each other! If you’ve read or listened to the news any time in the last 50 years or more, you would agree so many god-less things happen globally every day it’s hard not to be consumed with fear and worry. One could easily get wrapped up in the clamor of any given issue that threatens to upend our world and personal security and completely lose sight of what our true responsibilities are as believers; which is the building up of the body of Christ, known as the church. As a matter of fact, Satan has worked this plan so brilliantly we don’t even know we’re wrapped up in the wrong things most days.
You could easily brush over Paul’s greeting to the church in Philippi in these opening verses of the book of Philippians. But to do so would overlook the important framework for which the rest of the book springs into action. For as you review more closely, you see the inner workings of the church come to light. And the church, in these days between Christ’s ascension and his return, is known as the era of the Holy Spirit and the growth of church. Christ will return for his bride, which is the church. The emphasis on this body of believers is profound. Missing it has devastating consequences to our responsibility to do the two things in this world Jesus commanded us to do when he said “love the Lord your God with all you heart, soul, mind and love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37, Mark 12:30, Luke 10:27, Deuteronomy 6:5). Salvation is personal and corporate. The church is personal and corporate. Knowing grammar is vitally important at this point too!
When we moved to Texas we learned there is an actual proper grammatical structure of the pronoun “y’all”. If used to include everyone, not just those within hearing distance, the proper use is “all y’alls”. Circling back to this week’s passage the pronoun is critical to the meaning of what Paul is saying to the church in Philippi. Verse six is a widely known passage that is repeated on greeting cards and signature lines the world over as a personal encouragement. And while it isn’t “illegal” to use it that way, in context Paul means the church in Philippi corporately. Speaking Texan as you read it may make the passage clearer to you in proper context:
He who began a work in all y’all will be faithful to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.
All y’all is the church! It is you, it is me, it is individual and it is corporate. A personal relationship with Christ Jesus leads us into fellowship with a body of believers known as the Church. The work of the church is not to make the gospel relevant (it already is). The work of the church is to make the gospel clear to a lost and dying world.
It is here that Paul opens this book with a prayer for the church in Philippi. The swirling unrest is growing as Christians become hated even more by the Jews and now Romans. Nero has come into power and it will be less than three years before the destruction of the temple and all “things” sacred will be destroyed, and Christians will be used as torches to light the streets of Rome. One could get wrapped up in this horrifying turn of events but Paul prays this incredible prayer for the church in Philippi.
“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for (all y’alls). I always pray with joy because of (all y’alls) partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in (all y’alls) will carry it to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
Considering the broiling circumstances of the day that could derail the message of salvation and the growth of the church (the body of Christ). Paul adds:
“And this is my prayer: that your (all y’alls) love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight (not just what is good or sentimental), so that you (all y’alls) may be able to discern what is best and may be pure (sincere, judged by sunlight) and blameless (not causing anyone to stumble) for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Christ Jesus – to the glory and praise of God.”
We all get wrapped up in circumstances, its the nature of the will of man to be consumed with himself. But Christ Jesus calls us to love others because of our growing love for him. Taking the focus off circumstances and whatever chatter is escalating during the day and seeking God for knowledge and depth of insight will give us,the body of Christ (the church) discernment for the day ahead. Which, ultimately is the good work he is completing until the day of Christ Jesus!