JOY! THE RESULT OF RIGHT PRIORITIES
On New Years day, and speaking about the reason he is going to teach the Greek exegesis of Philippians at Calvary Baptist Seminary this summer, Dave Black said,
The Philippian church was riddled with factions and rent by cliques. Unable to get along with each other, they took refuge in the alibi that unity was not really all that important. The fact is, their priority system was faulty.
He gives an apt example,
During WW II, our national leaders had a lot to say about "hyphenated Americans," German-Americans, for example, whose loyalty was divided between Germany and the U.S.
In the current atmosphere, especially in the blogging world, his next comment hits the center of the target,
Too many churches today have become hyphenated because their loyalty is divided between the Gospel and something else. We talk glibly about "God and country." Or else our loyalty is first of all to "our church" and then to the universal kingdom of God. We place temporal value on eternal things and eternal value on temporal things, like padded pews and lush carpets.
I would add to his examples things like how, when, where we meet, orders of service, gender issues, how much water needed for baptism, wine or juice, bread or wafers, ad infinitum; all of which may, or, may not, have a legitimate place for respectful discussion, and dissent, all of which are temporal.
As Dave continues,
Please don't misunderstand me. I'm not calling for perfect Christians. Neither is the apostle Paul (see Phil. 3:12 ff.). There are no perfect Christians, but there can be undivided loyalty.
Whilst ever we are in this world we will never be perfect in our practice ,understanding, behavioral attributes, responses, reactions or thoughts resulting in words.
What Dave says next reminds me of the little acronym I learned in Sunday School so many decades ago: Jesus first, Others second, Yourself last; JOY is the result of right priorities!
The real message of Philippians is not about joy. It's about priorities, about what comes first and foremost in our lives. "The only thing that matters," says Paul, "is that you live together as good citizens of heaven in a way that the Gospel of Christ requires" (1:27).
“It's about priorities.......... as good citizens of heaven....”
How easy it is, in our efforts to be “biblical” (?) that we cease to be Scriptural. As citizens of heaven (3:20) we are in possession of amazing undeserved and unearned privileges, not the least, being conferred with the rights and privileges of a kingdom which has no end.
My way of meeting, my denomination, my loyalty to methods and modes, etc, etc, pale into insignificance before such an amazing truth, that's if we really are, first and foremost, citizens of heaven.