Introduction to the book of Philippians

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The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Philippians

Pastor Steve started a new sermon series today from Philippians. Unlike Galatians, where Paul struck a “what are you doing?” tone, he said this is more of a happy letter, with a little bit of correction and an appeal for unity. Reading Philippians is like someone who runs every day and is in great shape; when you get around someone who is doing things the way they should be done, it shines a light on what we should be doing. Steve said his hope is that we won’t come away from Philippians feeling condemned, but inspired to live for Christ.

Then, he offered some historical perspective from Acts 16. Philippi was the city where Paul and Silas got thrown into jail. It’s also where Marc Anthony defeated Brutus after Julius Caesar’s murder. Because Philippi became a retirement place for Roman solders, the ministry of the church there was largely to Gentiles. The Romans engaged in worship of Caesar and the state, setting the stage decades later for Christians to get thrown to the lions. While there is nothing wrong with patriotism, it goes off-base if it turns into idolatry, Steve said. He commented that too often we filter Christianity through American values when they need to come solely from the gospel.

He then took a quick tour of Philippians, starting with 1:12-18. There, Steve pointed out at the end of the passage that Paul rejoiced the gospel was being preached, even though he was in jail and his opponents were criticizing him.

In chapter 2, Paul tells us what the incarnation means: that God has done everything through Christ and the evidence is us working out our salvation. Then, chapter 3:7-8 reminds us that whatever gain Paul had in life, he counted it as loss next to knowing Jesus. Steve compared that to a billionaire who doesn’t care about money, or a singer who doesn’t care about fame.

“I don’t know if our lives reflect that,” Steve said. “Jesus is better than everything, but other things keep getting in the way. Do we want to know Him or are we content to through the motions of church? If I put all my love and energy into my family and my wife, that’s idolatry.”

The same is true of someone who puts so much time into their career that they don’t have time for anything else. Yet Jesus said the kingdom of heaven is so valuable it is worth selling everything you own to acquire it. It is worth putting everything off to the side to get to know Jesus. After all, we will spend eternity worshiping Him. If we as a church feel deeper in love with Jesus and count everything else as loss, the world will notice, Steve said.

Finally, chapter 4 talks about giving and overcoming anxiety, including the “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (verse 13) and finding contentment in all things. “Pray for this series in Philippians,” Steve concluded. “Who knows what God will do with it?”