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Dec 9, 2012(신현철 목사)

2012.12.20 11:44

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본문】빌립보서 1:3~11

제목】예수 그리스도의 심장으로(With the affection of Christ Jesus)

 

 1.

  

As I was preparing for today’s sermon, my mind became heavy, because I am very comparable to Paul the Apostle… Of course, it does not even make sense that I am comparing myself to Paul the Apostle… However, we are both ministers. Paul the Apostle said, in verse 3 of today’s passage, “I thank God every time I remember you,” and in verse 4, said, “In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy.” In addition, in verse 6, he said, “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Paul the Apostle thought about gratitude and happiness whenever he thought about the Philippi Church.

 

 However, to be honest, I am not like Paul the Apostle. I did not think about gratitude and happiness whenever I thought about this church- I thought more about the complaints and dissatisfactions of the church: Why are the Christians at this church not complying? Why are there so few people who say they will devote themselves to the church? There is no one who volunteers readily, the finances in our church is always a struggle, so many people who are returning to Korea… The church is not one I had in my mind… So, I am very comparable to Paul the Apostle of today’s passage, and I believe I am such a bad minister.

 

Contemplating the word of God, I prayed. I would like to be a good pastor who is just like the Apostle Paul, who loves church members with the affection, who thinks about gratitude whenever he thinks about the church members, and who prays with joy. How can I be such a good pastor? I have thought how Paul prayed for the Philippi church with confidence.

 

To conclude in advance, I would say that Paul could have gratitude, joy and confidence, not because he was an outstanding man, but because he had the affection of Jesus Christ. I wish we live with joy and confidence, having the affection of Jesus Christ through God’s word of today.   

2.

 

First of all, in verses 7,13, and 17, Paul repeats ‘in chains’. This indicates that Paul is in a prison although it is not sure whether it is Roman prison or Caesar prison. One thing for sure is that Paul is writing the letter as a prisoner. The amazing thing is that although he is kept as a prisoner, Paul is not complaining in the letter but is writing a letter with conviction in joy and thanks.

 

Philippians is especially known as a letter of joy. In 4:4, it says, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”, and ‘joy’ is emphasized repeatedly in the letter. In Philippians 4, the word ‘joy’ is used 4 times and ‘rejoice’ is used 16 times. In chapter 2, the words are also used multiple times. In today’s scripture, Paul says that he “always pray with joy”. Paul continues to talk about joy in this short letter.

 

How was Paul able to write such a letter of joy while being kept in a prison?

 

Acts chapter 16 describes how Paul met with people at Philippi. Paul originally tried to share the gospel in the Asia. However, as described in Acts 16:9, “During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’” So, he went to Macedonia and then to Philippi and started the first church in Europe.

 

Anyhow, when Paul arrived in Philippi, there were no Jews or synagogues. As he was travelling to find a synagogue on Sunday, he found several people having worship services on a riverside. After Paul shared the gospel with these people, the first church started. Most of the people in Philippi church were gentiles. It seems that most of them were women considering many mentions of selling clothing and name of many women such as Lydia. Considering that gentile women were the main people at Philippi, the church may not have been a significant church without so much power.

 

However, when Paul was captured and kept in a prison after sharing the gospel, people at Philippi helped Paul significantly with great love. After this, Paul became deeply connected to Philippi and kept his love and contacts with them. Typically, Paul did not really receive any help from other groups or churches and worked as a tent maker to support himself. However, he received help from Philippi without hesitation. This shows how close Paul was to Philippi.

 

Anyhow, Philippi church was not originally in Paul’s plan but became very meaningful to Paul. So, as Paul thinks of the church, Paul was filled with joy and similes just came to his lips. Although he was in a prison, the overflowing joy overwhelmed the pain and suffering in the prison.

 

As I meditate more on the scripture, just like Paul’s meeting with the people at Philippi, I really wish that we can be like them having such joyful relationships. Although I may be in a hardship or bad situations, once I think about the person, I can smile and the joy overwhelms my pains. If this can happen…

 

Dear my congregation, I truly hope that we are blessed with such meetings and relationships.

3.

 

However, if Paul's church had been full of faults and did not have a good relationship with Paul, I don't think he would've prayed like he did. If this assumption is true, it is saying that the relationship between Paul and his church was very calculated. However, was it really?

 

Like I have mentioned previously, it is true that Philippi church was very nice toward Paul. Even so, Paul didn't think the church was faultless. In Chapter 1, Philippians, he prayed "That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ.", because there were people who couldn't approve things that were excellent and were not sincere. There were also people who were full of jealousy (1:15), those who preached Christ out of selfish ambition (1:17), and those who preached for from false motives (1:18). In Chapter 2, it says "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves." Paul wrote this because there were believers who fell under this category. As we can see, Philippi church was a church with numerous faults, and therefore, we cannot say that Paul prayed all the good things out of gratitude to the church. 

 4.

 

            There were actually many weaknesses and flaws found in the Church of Philippi. Even after knowing this, Paul said what he said to the Church of Philippi because of a reason… The sermon today is centralized around this reason…

 

In verse 7 is says, “It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart; for whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God's grace with me.”

 

 Apostle Paul thought that “it is right for [him] to feel this way”. The prayer of thanks, joy, and confidence Paul prayed for the Church of Philippi describes this feeling. In other words, Paul feels thankful, joy, and confident when he thinks about the Church of Philippi. It is not because the church deserves such feelings, but rather because Paul has the Church of Philippi “in [his] heart.”

 

 What do you think it means when Paul said that he has the Church of Philippi in his heart? What better proposal would there be to a lover than to say “you are in my heart?” The ‘heart’ written here defines the mind and commitment, which shows the most honest state of human. Apostle Paul loved the Church of Philippi so much that his thoughts only revolved around them.

 

 Not only that, but in verse 8, “God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.” The Church of Philippi was always in Paul’s heart because he was able to see them through the heart of Jesus Christ, and by His heart he loved them.

 

 However, the ‘heart of Jesus Christ’ (as recorded in the Korean Bible) is a bit different from the heart that we know; if we look at the Chinese character we can know the true meaning. There is ‘shim’ () which defines the mind and ‘jang’ () which defines the bowels. The original Greek word ‘Spranknois’ defines the ‘mind’ when one discusses in abstract context, and in concrete context it defines the ‘bowel.’ Therefore, the Bible is not describing the heart which makes heartbeats. However, it generally describes the same thing…

 

 Anyways, ‘by Christ Jesus’ heart I love you’ is actually saying that as Jesus Christ loved us by His bowels (the body) and through His mind, and Paul loves them likewise. In other words, Paul truly knew how Jesus Christ loved him through His body and mind, because he experienced this love. Thus, he loves the Church of Philippi in such way.

 

 Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” When Apostle Paul used to live as a sinner and from the death of Christ on the Cross… Paul knows and confirms that Jesus’ loves us because He did not go through imaginary pain but the actual pain.

 

 Jesus Christ loved Paul by his heart, body, and mind; thus allowing Paul to love the Church of Philippi by Christ. Paul did not love and bless the Church of Philippi because it was a great church but because Paul knew that Jesus Christ loved him by His body and mind, and he loved the Church of Philippi by the same ‘love’.

 

Moreover, the Church of Philippi and Paul did not share a great relationship because they gave each other something useful. Nor was it through calculation or other measurements that they came to loving each other. Like Jesus Christ unconditionally loved humans, Paul is also stating that he loves the Church of Philippi.

 

5.

 

         This was what I really felt ashamed. Paul truly loved the church at Philippi, however, I could not share that feeling of love. Consequently, I could not embrace a church in my heart nor could I love it with the affection of Jesus Christ. Due to this conditional love, I did not thank or have faith or feel joy. Complaints and resentments still remained in my mind. Therefore, I was devastated, and I have deeply thought how I could become a person who has the affection of Jesus Christ.   

 

         Whether it is true or not, if you hold someone’s hand for one and half minute to three minutes, the speed of your own heart rate becomes similar to the heart rate of the person whose hand you are holing. Therefore two people who are holding hands are deemed a single person with the same heartbeat.

 

     Lord Jesus who is the one held out His bloody hand to Paul in Damascus. Paul held it and then, Lord Jesus’s and Paul’s heart had the same heart rates.  As a result, for where Lord Jesus heart was, so was Paul’s heart, for what Lord Jesus wept over it, Paul cried for it as well. Paul reached out his other hand to the church at Philippi. While Lord Jesus’s hand met with Paul’s , through Paul’s’ other free hand, he connected to the people in the church at Philippi. People at Philippi felt Lord Jesus through Paul’s heart. Consequently, all connected and became one sharing the same heart rate.

 

          While I was meditating on the Word, I have realised the reason as to why we have to wait for Lord Jesus on Advent. Instead of I hold baby Jesus’s hand as soon as possible, I wish He is the one holding my hand. Therefore, I wish Lord Jesus and I have the same heartbeat. I want to hold your hands, as well.  As a result, I want all of us to become one. One who has the same heart, and same heart beat.