Saturday, June 19, 2010

Philippians 1-2: One in Spirit

I think Paul's letter to the Philippians was the first book in the Bible I fell in love with. Even now, as I read the familiar words, they speak to me. And more than that, I remember how they have spoken to me in the past.

Some years ago, when I was about 20, Duane and I joined a Friday night prayer group with some young men and women in our church. We worshiped, we prayed, we interceded, we shared Scripture. We grew as followers of Jesus Christ.

And then we had a silly disagreement. Some of us were going camping in the desert, leaving on Friday afternoon. Everyone in our prayer group was invited on the camping trip, but not all of them were going to go. The ones who decided to stay in San Diego thought the campers should leave after the prayer group; of course those of us who were going thought that was silly. You can't set up a tent in the dark, and who wants to lose a whole day?

We argued. People took sides.

I "discovered" Philippians 2:1-4.

If you have any encouragement from being united in Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

How I wished we would have embraced this passage, honored each other, submitted to one another. I don't remember what we ended up doing. I just remember that the prayer group members drifted apart. We continued meeting for about another month, but it wasn't the same.

I turn to this passage often. It speaks to me, to my desire to be right, to my desire for logical discussions. It speaks to me about how I should look at other people in my faith community.

One love.
One spirit.
One purpose.
In humility submitting to one another.
Looking out for the interests of others.

We follow the example of Jesus, who humbled himself, came to earth, made himself nothing, became a servant, and died for us.

We can only do this by God's power.

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