Collaborating with God in ChristSep 08, 2021
There are many passages in Paul’s letters that I’ve sometimes been tempted to gloss over. In those places where he lists a bunch of people I don’t know and offers a quick word for each of them, I don’t always see the connection with my own experience. However, one such passage has become a home for my soul. It is found in the second chapter of Paul’s letter to his friends in Philippi. (You can read Philippians 2:19–30 online here).
Awhile back I was reading these verses and was drawn to the times where Paul uses one of his favorite phrases: “in the Lord.” It seems like shorthand for how he seeks to live his life and do his work at home in the presence of God. Here are three ways he uses these three little words to talk about his experience and intentions:
“I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon” (v. 19). Paul could have simply said, “I’m going to send Timothy your way soon.” Instead, Paul hopes “in the Lord” that Jesus will open a door for Timothy to visit Paul’s friends in Philippi and bring back news that will encourage his heart. Paul isn’t operating on his own. He sees himself as a collaborator with Jesus in the good work God is doing.
“And I am confident in the Lord that I myself will come soon” (v. 24). Paul is humbly optimistic about his intention to make a personal visit to Philippi after Timothy brings back some real-time news. Paul seems certain that Jesus will open a way for such a visit. He isn’t confident in his own resourcefulness or his own plans. Paul expresses confidence in the Good Shepherd who is always going out ahead of him.
“Welcome [Epaphroditus] in the Lord with great joy” (v. 29). The Philippian church had sent Epaphroditus to Rome as a helper for Paul, who remained under house arrest. Now Paul is sending him back and wants them to give him a welcome that is rooted in their shared communion with Christ. When we have Jesus in common with others, we experience a heart hospitality like nowhere else. Because we are consciously aware of Jesus in us and Jesus in the other, we celebrate this shared love and vitality in Christ.
- How is Jesus inviting you to live your life and conduct your work “in Him” today? How is God inviting you to practice the presence of Christ in all you’ll do today? How might this be a source of hope, courage, or joy for you?