“Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do.”
I pray that you have enjoyed our journey through Philippians 3:10-21 so far. I know that I am drinking in the posts this week and receiving it as fresh manna from heaven, a rhema word over my life.
Paul is my absolute favorite person in Scripture and his letter to the Church in Ephesus is my favorite book of the Bible. He’s honest about his failures and weaknesses, yet he understands the power and grace found in knowing Jesus. He gets it. He is asking us in our passage today to consider him as a model, an example, and an encouragement … it’s not because of his perfection that we should… it’s because of the God he points to that we should.
To give context – Paul is calling those reading this letter (the church in Philippi was his original audience) to follow him as he seeks to “know the power of his (Jesus) resurrection and participation in his (Jesus) sufferings.” This passage brought tears to my eyes as I prayed over it, asking the Lord to give me some life-giving words to encourage and challenge your heart. As a pastor, I feel the weight of Paul’s words and I am deeply challenged.
How did Paul model the power of Jesus and the sharing of His suffering? One word: Love.
I lead a young adult women’s Bible study every Thursday morning at 7am. We recently finished studying 1 Corinthians and we’ve just started 2 Corinthians. And do you know what theme comes up over and over again? You guessed it: love. We are learning to receive God’s love, to embrace God’s love, to rest in God’s love, and to show God’s love. It’s as if all of Scripture points to the thing that Scripture says, ‘nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from’…LOVE.
It’s easier for me to go through a hard time when I know I’m loved. I can share in the sufferings of Jesus, when I know I’m loved. Why? Because His love is a reminder that all things are working for my good! I can walk in the power of the Holy Spirit when I know I’m loved. Why? Because Love is unshakeable! My God, I feel like running as I write this. The reality of love changes everything my friends!
I think Paul just did his best to live loved. And I think he’s calling you and I to the same thing; the best part is we get to model it for each other! When you aren’t feeling loved – I get to remind you. And when I’m struggling – you get to remind me. We get to press together because our God who is Love will always have the last word.
I don’t think Paul’s letter was a call to perfection but rather a call to perseverance. We don’t have to strive, we get to rest.
“Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”