Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Below the Surface


I'm pretty excited about this series in Philippians.

When I thought I was going to do further research in New Testament studies, it was Philippians that drew my attention. In four short chapters, it bubbles with joy in the midst of sorrow, purpose and meaning in the midst of confusion and conflict, and the liberating truth that knowing Jesus is of surpassing worth compared to even the best things we have otherwise in life.

And as a precursor, Acts 16, the account of the founding of the Church at Philippi, has gripping stuff.

You can also see here the publicity that our esteemed Princeton seminary intern Marc Choi put together for the men's sessions in midtown, and we'll also have coed studies downtown. Looking forward to it.

What's your favourite bit of Philippians, if you have one, gentle reader?

8 comments:

TD-2243 said...

I find 1:23-24 particularly interesting.

"I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account."

Paul, who seemed to have such a clear vision of his role in the Kingdom, longed to be in Heaven rather than on earth. I can't seem to find my role, but yet I am to remain here for the good of others regardless. hmm....

Mimi said...

When I hear Philippians, the following verses come to my mind: "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (4:4 - 7)

However, TD-2243's comment really hits me. I identify myself with Paul's notion in 1:23 - 24, and I hope that my remain in the flesh is benefiting God's people...

Clifford Swartz said...

Dan -- I'm not sure if we all have a role that is as defined as the one Paul had. He was knocked off his horse and called directly by Jesus to be an Apostle (ego apostello -- I send you). I don't see evidence in the Bible that everyone has a specific vocation, but do see a general call to be faithful, to glorify God in whatever we do, to serve, etc. You do that in spades, and with joy, as far as I see. Don't know if that fits with what you mean by a role.
And I am planning to be there on Friday morning to see your great role...

Clifford Swartz said...

Likewise Mimi -- I see the faithful and joyful service you offer and your place in the community life at Christ Church and it seems to me that you are exercising a role here in the city that makes an eternal difference. I don't know that everyone does have a lifelong calling in terms of a job, but that doesn't mean we don't have important roles (like friend, ministry pioneer at an old folks' home, sister in Christ, student, etc).

Is it a temptation to define our lives that way because the world does? "Hi, I'm Fred, a banker..." or "Hi, I'm Jill, a lawyer...". If we claim our primary identity is in Christ, maybe it should be "Hi, I'm Henry, a follower of Jesus, and a son, a brother, a friend, a neighbor, a generous giver, a stamp collector, and my work as an accountant makes all that happen..."

Justin said...

Secret of Contentment.

Choi is my home-boi.

TD-2243 said...

I think you are right Cliff. I think when we were kids, we all wanted to have a significance in the Kingdom like Moses, Paul or even Zaccheus. In reality, for every well known Christian in the Bible, there were countless Israelites who went unnamed and wandered through the desert trying to figure out what was going on.

SeaPea said...

where's Phillipi now?

Clifford Swartz said...

Dan -- the nice thing about the Old Testament narrative you mentioned, and the same pattern repeats in the New Testament, is that it is often unspectacular people who are used mightily by God. Take Joseph -- just going along his merry way in life, got married a bit later on, and then has the Son of God to raise in his home! Or John Newton, who was called to ministry age 40 and had decades of wonderful service (along with writing Amazing Grace).

Clara -- Philippi is now an archeological site, as the city was damaged by earthquakes and overrun by invasions from the 7th century onwards. A modern Greek city is located nearby. Visit it sometime!