On Wednesday nights our adult Bible study group is going through a video series on Philippians led by Matt Chandler. It is simply good stuff.
Reflecting on Philippians 3:12-15, Chandler said this at one point:
No one has ever drifted into godliness.
We need a hunger. We need a striving. We need to keep asking, “HOW do I know God better?” and then ACT on it. We need a holy dissatisfaction that keeps us moving forward.
Here’s the thing: We know this about any other discipline or job worth doing. Why do we treat our Christianity so differently… and with such indifference?
Our Wednesday night Bible study has been going through a series on Philippians, listening to a teaching from Matt Chandler. It is an incredible series. Last night was on Philippians 3 and the issue of what stirs our affections. Our hearts were so stirred as we thought of the things that God uses in our lives to stir our deep passions for him.
There are small things in each of us that stir up great affection for Jesus. There are also small things that distract us from our affections. They are rarely “big” things.
The affections that are stirred in each of us are often triggered by a few different things. To then “codify” what stirs our passions or robs our affections is just legalism.
The kind of music that stirs me to sense those deep affections for Christ may be different than the kind of music that stirs those deep affections in someone else.
In the same way, the things that distract me from deep affections (like too much social media) may not have that same effect on someone else.
Legalism would dictate: This is “godly” music. This is the “devil’s” kind of social media.
Each of us have those small things that can stir up the deep passions for Christ. Let those deep passions be stirred once again. Pull out that favorite song. Watch that favorite movie that stirs the emotion.
Do something that stirs that deep affection for Christ once again!
The cry of Paul in Philippians 3 comes from deep passion. Let us be stirred. Let us be moved.
7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
I’ve met several missionaries who are part of the “Live Dead” teams being raised up to go into the hardest places of the world. They have been to my church. I’ve sat with them at lunch. They are incredibly determined people.
Meeting one in context is somehow a very different story. Sitting in another country, listening to them almost casually talk about being run out of one country and now the opportunity God has given them in a new hard area, and they rejoice.
To hear stories of missionaries barely making it out of a country like it was out of the movie Argo, without the camera lights and the Academy Awards, of course…
And they are praying strategically for the next thing God has for them.
It’s hard to kill a dead man.
They’ve obtained a prize. They have pursued Christ and found him to be everything. They have died long ago. They are now in LIFE like this world can’t know.
8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. (Phil. 3:8-11)
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. (Phil 4:4)
Rejoicing is not always a frantic shout-fest, trying to spin up frothing emotion. It is a state of deep content. Deep joy doesn’t have to shout.
Last night I took my wife to one of our favorite restaurants and we shared a fabulous steak, along with some amazing dessert. We talked about the day, talked about life, but there were times with long pauses where we savored our wonderful food and listened to a jazz ensemble playing in the restaurant.
Rejoice in the Lord. It’s not about whipping up emotion. It could be an open bible, a prayer-filled heart, and even some silence. And in that we can find joy.
12 I know the experience of being in need and of having more than enough; I have learned the secret to being content in any and every circumstance, whether full or hungry or whether having plenty or being poor. 13 I can endure all these things through the power of the one who gives me strength. (Phil. 4:12-13, CEB)
In a culture that thrives on being DIScontent, these words from Paul sound impossible. Our economy thrives on people being DIScontent with their current products so they will go and buy new products. Our fast-paced media thrives on our DIScontent to shove fantastic stories into face 24 hours a day.
Contentment sounds impossible. It sounds BORING.
How can someone live with contentment and expect to get on the news?!?
But for Paul, this is the place learn absolute trust. Hungry or full. Closet full of clothes or the clothes on our back. We can know Christ and knowing Christ is contentment.
When we have Christ, what he has put in our lives we call good. Circumstances don’t matter when Christ is our center.
And so am I.
Isn’t that good news? When do I get my photo shoot?
While we may not have “model looks,” we do have a higher calling. Our high calling isn’t about making the cover of a magazine. Our high calling is to live out the Kingdom in front of others so they can see the beauty of Christ.
Put your life on the line. Be a model.
17 Brothers and sisters, become imitators of me and watch those who live this way—you can use us as models. (Phil 3:17, CEB)
Phil. 3:16 — Live up to what we have already attained.
Early thoughts on this week’s reading: build on what you have, not what you wish you had, or bemoaning what you don’t have. Take what you have in Christ and build on it. Take up the passionate pursuit with what is already in you.