“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. 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.”
Ever think about how much goes into a Hollywood blockbuster movie? Well, if you haven’t, take a second to do so. There’s millions of dollars shooting around with hundreds of people coordinating their efforts to bring 300+ pages of a story to the hundreds of thousands of frames in film that blast onto a screen at your local movie theater. I think I take it for granted because movies are so easy to enjoy– you just (sometimes) pay, sit down, and feast your senses for the next couple of explosive hours. Thinking about the process of making a film and what must go into it, I can tell you it must be an amazing feeling for the Director or Screenwriter standing up at the Oscars and receiving that award for “Best Motion Picture” and having their efforts for the last months or even years of grueling work recognized. Success, as it seems, tastes better relative to the amount of work being put into it.
I don’t know much about starting a church or as the industry calls it, “Church Planting,” but I can tell you that from reading the letters of the Apostle Paul (the first and perhaps best church planter ever), it was a grueling process. All of the epistles, or letters, in the New Testament were written to churches that Paul has been involved with starting. The difference here between making a movie and forming a church is that while poor decisions and shortcuts in film will lead to one less tomato on rottentomatoes.com for your movie, the same sloppiness carries the weight of the very souls of humans in a growing church. Naturally, Steven Spielberg’s must stressful day in film making was probably a hiccup for church plant extraordinaire Paul of Tarsus.
For Paul, the church at Phillipi was his child. He came there a couple of years earlier and was there for its birth. He invested his time, talent and heart into it’s growth, and here here is remembering where they’ve come from as he sees where they are.
Doing some research I found that Phillipi was a unique place. It was the first European church that was planted and had such a small Jewish population (people who knew and believed about God and just needed to be informed about Jesus and how he was the long awaited Messiah) that they didn’t even have a synagogue. But, nevertheless, Paul rolled up his sleeves with another brother in Christ named Timothy, and went to work.
Over years, the church grew and the relationship between Paul and the Philippians was great. He loved the people whom he was sharing the Gospel with and they loved him as their friend and spiritual father.
Paul, in this section, doesn’t take any credit for the work that’s being done in them. He’s giving all the credit to God because he understands that the transformation (and there was a drastic transformation) that the people were encountering was only possible because of the Cross. Jesus.
Take a minute and reflect. If you know Jesus and have a relationship with him, think about where you’ve come from. We often take it for granted because our human perspectives only allow us to see immediately behind us and (for me at least) right in front of us. Although the transformation and change happens gradually, this doesn’t negate the fact that it’s been drastic.
Take for instance this blog post and the ones to come. Before I was a real Christian chasing after Christ with everything I had, I would have NEVER written voluntarily, much less with enthusiasm, anything about the bible or Jesus. But I’m coming to realize more and more as I study Journalism here at UMass that this is the only thing that I actually enjoy writing about.
Your life, regardless of how lame you may think it is, is infinitely more epic than any fabricated story told on the big screen. It’s more exciting than the most action packed thriller and speaks more dramatically about love, hate and redemption than any corny Disney movie can depict. It’s real, it’s raw and it’s been in the making since before time.
Remember where you’ve come from. Remember where you are. And remember that Christ is the reason for this, and Christ is the goal of where you should be. This awesome story that is your life is not for your benefit, but brings glory to God as he receives the award for “Best Director.”
The last part of this scripture is something that we should have hope for:
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.
He started the good work (even if you don’t realize it’s good), and it only gets better if you allow Christ to inhabit your life and to work his magic.
If you haven’t experienced the transformation that I’m talking about, the transformation that Paul is excited about in the Phillippians, or the transformation happening in all of the Christians reading this post, it’s because you haven’t let Jesus in to start it. I challenge you to soften your heart and to open it to the Truth that is in Christ and let the God of this Universe be the director of your life. Careful though, it wont be anything short of uber-epic.
Stay posted, as I will be doing my best to have daily updates such as these that follow my walk through Paul’s Letter to the Phillippians. The Phillippians have come a long way, but they have an even longer way to go. We’ll look at what their journey looked like and what it has to do with us today.