For the record, I think Paul is a bit confused sometimes. We’re looking through his letter to the Phillipians, and my first impression is this – Paul is in prison, and telling the Phillipians to rejoice and be prayerful.
Let’s take a second to think about what’s going on here. Starting with Paul. He’s in prison, again. He’s in chains. He’s suffering. I imagine he’d be lonely, cold and hungry and if he’s not going to complain about it, I’ll complain for him… It would have sucked! So, point one of this thought is this – Paul’s situation irrefutably sucked.
The Phillipians are a church sort of in the middle of Macedonia. Now, I’ll be honest, I haven’t researched their context or anything of the sort, but I’m willing to say that they don’t have it as bad as Paul did. Apparently soldiers went to retire there, and in my imagination it looks a bit like a retirement village but with a bar right in the middle where they get together to compare stories of their conquests, and right beside the bar is the church… because Paul knew it was important to engage with culture and he planted the church there, so it would be close to the cultural centre, right?
Okay, so you’ve got Paul and you’ve got the church… Paul thinks the church is awesome, and the church think Paul is crazy for God in the best of ways. Paul decides to write them a letter because, let’s face it, he’s good at writing letters! Paul prays about what to write… he gets ready, and by dramatic candle light that’s strategically placed to only illuminate his face and a small amount of the paper, he writes this letter.
He tells them to PRAY.
He tells them to REJOICE.
He thanks them for their encouragement.
Did I mention that Paul’s situation really, really sucked?
The man is in jail. Cold, lonely… you remember? And he’s writing to tell them to rejoice, to pray and that, as a memory verse from Phillipians when we did something at Sondaze a while back tells us, we should shine like stars in the universe as we hold out the word of life in a wicked and depraved generation (or something to that effect. I don’t have my Bible with me).
Paul is in jail.
And he’s written a letter about being prayerful and joyful. He’s either confused, as I first thought… or he’s onto something big, that defines a lot of our life and moulds our faith.
I’m going to go with the latter.