4Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:4-7
By KATHLEEN DETTMAN
Sometimes it seems that we are having a harder time understanding and accepting each other; it’s is tempting to focus on what divides us rather than what unites us. The Apostle Paul knew better; he knew that what unites us isn’t our own efforts, but Christ himself. When Paul looked back at his life, his struggles and accomplishments- even his fights- he knew that what really mattered was Christ. Paul knew he wasn’t perfect and neither were the Philippians, but he knew life in Christ is always life in community– living with and for others.
Paul didn’t pretend that living together as Christians is always easy, but he knew it was worth the effort. He experienced the joy of sharing in ministry with other Christians. Even in prison he still loved these believers, prayed for them, and encouraged and counseled them through his letters. He was comforted and strengthened by knowing that they loved, supported and prayed for him. He could encourage the Philippians to rejoice always because Christ’s presence in him filled him with an enduring joy.
You can feel in this passage Paul’s love for the Philippians, his eagerness for them to share in the joy and peace he feels. What he gives them isn’t advice so much as a description of life in Christ. We respond to Christ’s love and mercy with joy, gratitude, gentleness, compassion and prayer. The needs of others become our prayers and our needs become their prayers.
“The Lord is near” – that’s the source of our joy, gratitude, gentleness and compassion. Christ brings the fullness of God’s love to a broken, sinful world to redeem, forgive, heal and protect. The peace of God is beyond anything we can imagine, but we can rely on it