The Fellowship of the Beautiful from Beginning to End.
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
There always seems to be a project at my house. We have a house that was built in 1920. A large Craftsman style with many needs, plus a large yard. I am sure you have tasks around your life that require time and attention. With these projects, there is always a starting point and hopefully an ending point. Confidently, we work to persevere and bring our projects to a desired end.
Here in Philippians 1 we will discover Paul, though having many distractions, he is joyfully sure that a good work will be finished on the required day. I do not know about you, but Paul’s attitude is great and serves as a beautiful way to look at our culture and our Fellowship of the Beautiful.
I love how Paul recalls the relationship with the church in Phillipi. He says “every time you cross my mind. I break out in exclamations of thanks to God. Each exclamation is a trigger prayer. I find myself praying for you with a glad heart”. He goes on to thank them for the continued support in the ministry of the Gospel. Here he sets the common thing, or the subject of his fellowship with the church, the Gospel! Now here is where the comparison to us in our COVID state of mind begins.
Fellowship means among other things that we are ready to receive of Christ from others. Other believers minister Christ to me, and I am ready to receive.
- Watchman Nee
Paul is in jail, suffering through torture and starvation, and it must be a battle of his will to continue to think rightly about Jesus and the work at hand, the Gospel! I imagine he had doubt but the reminder of the fellowship he had with the followers at Philippi helped fade that doubt away through the praise of remembrance.
Here in verse 6 he states no doubt in his mind. So, his remembering the fellowship of the Gospel strengthened his mind. Right now, what is your COVID state of mind? Distracted. Disoriented, Discombobulated! Here at TIME we are trying to the find a new normal, a re-adjustment of ministry. Like Paul, the common cause is the Gospel and it is the fellowship of Jesus that gives us confidence. We rely on our renewed mind.
The work was started by God. Read in Acts 14-16 about the work that God started. Read about Lydia, a woman who was integral to Paul’s ministry. She was a businesswoman dealing in expensive textiles. She was a leader and known to be a God-fearing person. She listened to Paul and gave her trusting heart to Jesus. She persisted on Paul coming to eat at her house and became what was most likely Paul’s biggest financial supporter. The ministry at Philippi was not started by committee studying the social economics of the neighborhood in order to determine its viability. Not that is there is anything wrong with that.
We must acknowledge that the work of the Gospel is great work, work of the highest regard. If we do not recognize the work or the fellowship of Jesus as the most important work of our lives, we miss the whole purpose of our being. RC Sproul says the purpose, sole purpose for any follower of Jesus, is to find rest in Him. Rest in Jesus activates all the good things that God provides and all the beautiful work he for us to do. Which do you think Paul is talking about here: REST WORK or STRESSED WORK?
THE WORK IN YOU.
We now get down to the real work, the work in you! Paul takes great delight in the confidence of the followers. Jesus in you. Getting everyone involved in the glory of Jesus and to keeping at it seems to be the work at hand. We make a leap, a bad leap in thinking that if we believe we can go it alone into this beautiful fellowship of the Gospel.
We do not know Jesus, if we do not know each other.
We cannot know each other, if we don’t know Jesus.
This thinking is evident later in this section when he brags about how the Philippians church stuck with him through it all. That reminds of an old Andre Crouch song “Through it All”.
I thank God for the mountains,
and I thank Him for the valleys,
I thank Him for the storms He brought me through.
For if I'd never had a problem,
I wouldn't know God could solve them,
I'd never know what faith in God could do.
Through it all, through it all,
I have learned to trust in Jesus,
I've learned to trust in God.
GOD WILL BRING IT
God does the work all we have to do is allow Jesus to be our example and the Spirit to empower us to follow faithfully. We must live and we must love in the way Jesus does, not according to my or your understanding. We have, as a people, Jesus, a King and a priest who does not need to consult with us on what is next. Could you imagine if Jesus asked us, so, what next? No, that’s chaos! We just need to use our heads, and check or test our feelings to love intelligently. This is the beauty of Jesus. We cannot manage what God brings and when he brings it. Just trust he will bring it and Jesus will be proud of us if we just get involved.
TO A FINISH
Now here is the where we can get confused. Finish here means the big finish. Not the “promise of today” finish or “my life in comfort” finish. God does not promise tomorrow the way we think. The day I realized that none of the Bible was about me is when I understood the promise, we read about in the Bible . I read about the promise for so many years, that promise that runs through the entire Bible. “The promise” is what is so wonderful about Jesus. The promise is not about what I get now or how God provides here and now. The Beautiful promise Is Jesus. Beautiful Jesus. The day that Christ Jesus appears. The rest in Jesus is the now life, the beauty of Jesus is yet to come.
Let us go back to our projects, our COVID state of mind, our start to finish projects. Without a doubt we are all struggling in these COVID days. At TIME Ministries our 2020 budgets are gone. We have re-adjusted everything, cut all we can and will need to run below lean for the future. TIME is about the finish line that is the Gospel.
We started TIME 53 years ago doing short-term missions and now “The Beautiful” is reminding us to lean into Him, to have a solid mind, to have no doubt when everything is in doubt, to understand we are engaged in the great work of the fellowship of the Gospel, that the work for you and me is to rest in Jesus.
Jesus will bring IT! His unfinished work, he will bring it to perfection, A perfect work, a flourishing work, an attractive work. A work that leads to THE BEAUTIFUL end. The day Jesus appears.
So, you can get distracted, you can become discombobulated about your life projects. But do not forget THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE BEAUTIFUL JESUS.