Above the Routine
There’s nothing like the start of a school and college semester. Life seems to get back into a routine and overwhelm simultaneously. Grades, reports, schedules, conflicts, viruses– you name it. And that’s just for second graders. Before we get back to the grind, we need to think very practically about our relationship with Christ. If we know Christ, how does that affect our practices?
In the first century, the Philippians were overcome with grief over the circumstances of their founding missionary. He’s in prison, and they wondered what would happen next. They took Paul’s pain on themselves and began arguing with each other, judging one another’s motives, jumping to conclusions, and of course, preparing to quit. Paul dictated a letter to be read to them, carried by his friend Epaphroditus. He wanted to console them by replacing their self-imposed pity party with a joyful celebration. He wanted to replace their dissatisfaction with contentment. He wanted to take their selfishness and give them vulnerability. Instead of ambition, he wanted them focused on humility. Each very important step in the process was designed to help them “know Christ and the power of his resurrection” (Philippians 3:11).
Although our circumstances are much different than a group of 50 or so believers in Philippi; our stress, anxiety, and grief are magnified. Confronted with a world where Christianity is no longer the default religion, we become ambitious, selfish, petty, settled, worried, and dissatisfied. We hunker down with a few close friends who think like us and hope Christ returns just to fix everything the way we want it. That was never our calling as disciples.
We need a writer like the apostle Paul to awaken us out of our decisions and to weigh everything against Christ’s model at Calvary. Because he took the cross, shame, blame, and disgrace for us, we can now live like him in the joy that comes from giving everything to follow him. It’s not easy, but it is the good work that Christ is doing in you. Because in reality, you weren’t in control of your life anyway. Only by surrendering to Jesus can we truly trust him for the adventure that is before us. Just ask the guy imprisoned for his faith. He’s the one with the smile on his face. And if you listen to his letter, you probably can hear him laughing.