A Call to Celebration
Grounded in Paul’s Letter to the Philippians
- Invite members of the group to tell what their hobbies are.
- Invite them to show or talk about something which they have made of which they are particularly pleased or proud.
- Sing “What a friend we have in Jesus”.
- Talk about the importance of small groups like this one in the life of a congregation.
- Read Philippians 4: 1- 7 and the accompanying comment.
Philippians 4: 1 – 7
v.1 : In this letter Paul might sound here like a parent writing to an absent teenage son or daughter, warning about certain dangers and giving helpful advice. Actually he regarded himself as their older brother. Whatever the relationship, he wanted these Christians in Philippi to know that all this arises out of his love for them. They are the fruit of his labour. Their faith is the outcome of his missionary activity. It makes him very happy to think of them. Their faith has crowned his efforts.They are under attack both from without and from within, and it is to warn them of this that Paul urges them to stand firm in the Lord. This is an exhortation applicable to every congregation and every individual Christian.
vv.2-3 : This doesn’t mean that the Christians in Philippi have arrived at the end of their Christian journey as though their faith and Christian living was complete and unblemished. There is the disagreement between two leading women in the congregation which still has to be dealt with. He appeals to them to settle their differences, and he asks other leaders in the Philippian church to help them do this.No matter how happy we may feel with church life, there is always room for growth. There are always issues which need to be attended to. As a community of people who acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, the congregation or any group within the congregation is a place for practicing Christian living. That is why it is not only important to give attention to what the church is doing, but also to the way in which it is doing it. The congregation is a place for learning and practising the life of God’s eternal kingdom.Philippi, like other ancient cities, would have kept a register of its citizens. In like manner, all those who put their faith in Jesus Christ can be regarded as having their names on the register of citizens inGod’s city. To have one’s name in the book of life is to be a citizen of God’s eternal-life kingdom.
vv. 4- 7: In these verses Paul gives advice to his readers about how to stand firm in the Lord. He briefly touches on the subjects of rejoicing, gentleness, the absence of worry, prayer, and peace.Genuine Christian faith is marked by joy, and this rejoicing is not just because we feel good, but because we know, deep down, that we have eternal life. We are citizens of the kingdom of heaven. We are loved. We are redeemed. We are saved. It cannot be said too often, Rejoice! Live as a joy-filled person whose happiness is from God.Be fair-minded, unselfish and considerate; be prepared for a certain amount of give-and-take; become known for your gentleness, moderation and forbearance.No one knows when the Lord will come again, but we are to live every day as though he were coming that very day.Anxiety gnaws away at our health and well-being. It also reminds us how brittle our faith is. But the answer to worry or anxiety lies in prayer. Prayer, however, must not simply focus on our own problems, but must include thanksgiving for what God has given to us and done for us.It is the sense of being at peace with God, at peace with our selves and having peace within us as we face other people that we can be secure in Christ. This inner peace keeps us firmly in our faith and discipleship.
1. Paul’s exhortation to stand firm in the Lord is applicable to all congregations and to every individual Christian. (a) What are the most serious dangers which threaten our Christian faith today? (b) Share with one another ways in which your faith has been strengthened when you have stood firmly against those threats.
2. Paul saw the need for conflict resolution in the Philippian church. (a) Why is it important for rivalries, personality clashes and disagreements to be dealt with in a congregation? Should we not just let sleeping dogs lie? (b) What guidelines would you draw up for trying to deal with such situations?
3. Paul spoke about the people in the Philippian church having their names in the book of life. (a) What is meant by having one’s name in the book of life? (b) How confident are you that your name is in the book of life?
4. Through Paul, we are exhorted (1) to rejoice; (2) to become known as fair-minded, considerate and respectful persons; (3) to take our worries to God in prayer; and (4) to have that inner peace which makes us secure in our faith. (a) Which of these help you most to stand firm in the face of doubts and challenges to your faith? (b) Which of these most need developing in your life right now?
- Pray for each other and the expressed needs as just discussed.
- Pray that people may learn the way of Christ through involvement in all of your church activities including your meetings and social gatherings.