The Joy of Togetherness
The New Testament book of Philippians is really a love letter written by the apostle Paul to his friends in the church at Philippi. Nestled among the trees but not too far from the rolling waves of the Mediterranean Sea, Philippi was a city in eastern Europe Paul visited during his second missionary journey. After preaching the gospel on the riverbank to a woman named Lydia and others who were there to pray, the Lord opened hearts and a church was born. Paul felt deeply about them because they had remained faithful to him in good times and in trials.
Paul thanks God for their “fellowship in the gospel” (1:5). Relationships in Christ are everything for the followers of Jesus. We can celebrate how God works in each other’s lives and how we can share the things of the Lord with them. “Sharing in the Lord” means praying for one another, worshipping together, and financially supporting God’s work. All this is “fellowship in the gospel.”
Paul wrote this letter to all the saints and described every believer as being set apart by God. We become saints—made holy—when we put our faith in Jesus Christ. To be a saint is to be “in Christ Jesus.” That’s what it means to be saved—to be in Christ. The Spirit of God chose just one little word, the preposition “in,” to explain the nature of salvation. It is to be in Christ. God places you in Christ when you trust Him as your Savior.
This kind of faithful fellowship sustains us in good times and trials. Does anyone in your life come to mind? We can follow Paul’s example and pray for each other to move toward a deeper understanding of the Lord and a wider experience of His love. We can encourage each other to be the genuine item. No pretense. No putting on spiritual airs that a watching world sees right through.
Certainly, the Christian life and the preaching of the Word of God will offend someone, but loving and serving God with sincerity will give us our ultimate spiritual prize: “Being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God” (1:11). That’s the goal of living the Christian life.
Someday, Jesus Christ will return for His children. On that day, we will offer Him the “fruits of righteousness” that brings glory and praise to God alone. Together in the joy of fellowship with other believers, including these choice Christians in Philippi, our lives will be brought to fullness as we share not only the sufferings of Christ but also the joy of sharing the Good News together. ~J. Vernon McGee