Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Commending Discipleship: Part Three

Devotion: Philippians 2:23-24

Our small group ministry just concluded a study entitled 'Experiencing God.' Throughout the study we were challenged to look for God is doing in the world and then join him in that work. On the surface this seems pretty straight forward, but the challenge comes when the Lord's will and my desire come into conflict. Blackaby, the author of the study, labeled these moments a crisis of belief that would lead the person to either adjust life to the call and will of God or to walk away disheartened and bitter (think the rich young man). Adjustment means having my life, my desire and my will conformed to the Lord's will. To undergo this process of conforming to the Lord's will is to be a disciple of Christ Jesus, the one who perfectly did the will of his Father.
The will of God comes to the forefront in our brief passage from Philippians:
"I hope therefore to send him just as soon as I see how it will go with me, and I trust in the Lord that shortly I myself will come also." -Philippians 2:23-24 ESV
It was clearly the Apostle's desire to go and be with the Philippians who had so graciously provided for his physical needs while he was in prison. Sending Timothy, couched int he language of hope, as his proxy was acceptable, but that was not his heart's desire. In essence, the Apostle knew that his upcoming trial could have two outcomes: 1) He could go free and then resume his travel plans, including visiting the church in Philippi again or 2) He would be convicted of riotous behavior and disturbing the peace and sentenced to any number of gruesome fates. While the Apostle sincerely hoped and desired the first, it seems through out the letter that the Apostle came to countenance the thought that God may be glorified in his imprisonment and suffering.
Here in our passage we can actually see the Apostle crisis of belief on display (which will be resolved famously in Philippians 4:13). The Apostle makes a plan to send Timothy (if the Lord should will it, hence the 'hope') if things turn toward option 2, but he holds out the possibility that the Lord could lead him to option 1 (and that is his desire). And this is where the beauty of the Christian faith comes through--we can sincerely desire and express our desire for things to go a certain way, but when they do not we trust in the Lord and His will to be better for His glory. This is beautiful in theory, difficult in practice, but ultimately glorifying to our God.

News for You:

A new, six-week session of Small Groups begins the week of January 22nd. The new year is a perfect time for growing closer to Christ and to each other. Make a resolution to sign up for a small group!

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