By Pastor Paulus Budiono
Lemah Putro, Sunday, July 14, 2019
Do we really believe in Jesus Christ whom we have never seen yet? For this reason, we need faith that comes from hearing the Word of Christ (Romans 10:17). If we have seen the very Person of Jesus, we would not need faith to believe in and surrender our worries to Him. Actually, Jesus had ever come to this world about more than 2.000 years ago. As the Ambassador of His Father, He and the disicples did His ministerial assignment in Palestinian regions to preach the Kingdom of Heaven and do many miracles. What a pity! It ended in betrayal, denial, and even His disicples left Him alone before His crucifixion. Jesus had done His mission perfectly. After His resurrection, He ascended to Heaven, returned to His Father’s house, preparing the place for us and He will come back soon to pick us up and live together with Him forever (John 14:2-3).
Is there any proof pointing out that Jesus has ever existed in this world? Hearing and reading the factual events in the Bible will bring faith as the foundation of our spiritual life. Don’t let the liturgy even the hearing of the Word of God become ceremonial and ritual; if so, we come to church carrying a heavy burden, going home from church we are still filled with fear and anxiety about the future.
We have finished the reading and discussion about the Letter to Colossians that lasted for six months. After reading the letter of the Apostle Paul which was represented by Epaphras, Tychicus, Onesimus, Aristharchus, etc., the faith of the congregation of Colosse was strengthened – for Paul was imprisoned at that time – then how do we respond after reading his letter?
Now, we are learning the Letter to the Philippians, written by the Apostle Paul, too. What is his message to the congregation in Philippi and to us? Philippians 1:18 writes, “But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice,”
It has been proven since long time ago that there were false preachers and sincere preachers; however, Paul was not affected but continued rejoicing. In the Letter to Philippians, he said ‘rejoice’ for 18 times eventhough at that time the situation of the deliverance of the Word of God was in chaos. At the previous era, Bible didn’t have chapters or verses; so, the reader must read it thoroughly to find its message completely. Now Bible consists of chapters and verses, but we become lazy and annoyed to read all books. Even the pastor, often takes only one verse then explains it freely without relating it to the previous and next verses so the sermon becomes out of context and deviates far from what the author meant to be.
It is a wonder, why did Apostle Paul write the word ‘rejoice’ repeatedly? Was it because he was a great fascinating person who was welcomed anywhere? Strangely enough, he was boycotted, pursued, stoned even imprisoned but he was still rejoicing. What is his secret?
The Apostle Paul was very concerned about the congregation of Philippians. Everytime he prayed for them all with joy (Philippian 1:4). Obviously, he did not pray only for certain people. For instance: he prayed seriously for the people whom he knew well or who gave a lot of offerings then he ignored and did not pray for the strangers or troublemakers. Truly he prayed for all people and it was a consistent and stable prayer.
The Apostle Paul was not influenced by those who preached Christ out of envy and rivalry or self-ambition. In his writings, Paul explained that their actions did not aggravate his burden in prison (Philippians 1:15-17) and he still rejoiced. Illustration: when writing a letter or sending text, what we write expresses the heart of the writer – anger, disappointment, joy, etc.
The Apostle Paul became a role-model to the congregation whom he served for his attitude and behaviour were marked with honesty and sincerity – not pretention. As a pastor, do not preach in hypocrisy. Sometimes he greets shalom repeatedly whereas he actually just had a fight/quarrel with his wife!
What examples from the Apostle Paul that we can take and apply in our daily life?
- He had his own principles – not simply followers, toward the Gospel which at times was twisted. He still rejoiced because he knew about the certainty of his salvation only through the prayer and help from Jesus Christ (Philippian 1:19).
Application: a (candidate) servant of God should preach the Gospel for the sake of salvation, trying to reach many souls to be saved, instead of popularity to enrich himself/herself.
- He was not ashamed of being imprisoned (because he did not do a crime but suffered for Christ) and did not change from the beginning (in any conditions) of his ministry to glorify Christ in his body – whether by life or by death (Philippian 1:20).
Application: A servant of God should hold his vow firmly, may not deviate because of blessing or lack of something. Thus, he or she becomes the witness of Christ who can be seen by people in his surrounding and the Name of The Lord be glorified.
- He longed to live with the congregation in Philippi (after being released from prison) and encouraged them to grow up and rejoice in faith (v.25).
Implication: A fellowship is needed to enhance the congregation’s spirituality and to make them rejoice in faith. By hearing the Word of God, the congregation’s faith can grow, so it can produce joy in their faith. A fellowship must not end in schism!
We need to know, in the pattern of Tabernacle, the Letter to Philipians portrays the Gold Lampstand in the Holy Place which was made from one talent of hammered pure gold (Exodus 37:17,24).
The Gold Lampstand represents the church of God (Revelation 1:20) and we must become the light of the world which is not hidden but shines before people; at least we shine for all people in the house (Matthew 5:14-15). The light of deed and good utterance should be spread at school, workplace, church even our community environment thus our Heavenly Father be glorified (v.16). Pay attention, the measurement of our good deed is not based on the culture and religion of one country but because of God’s mercy only (Ephesians 2:8-10). Therefore, a servant of God will not
need to be proud if he or she does good work because there is no one who is good and righteous before Him (Romans 3:10,12); also do not feel inferior/inconfident and frustrated but keep rejoicing when humiliated, isolated etc.
Do you know how to make the Gold Lampstand? The gold is melted in the furnace then hammered, beaten part by part differently according to the desired shape. In other words, the material is the same but the beating is different. For example: the beating to make the branch is different from the beating to make almond flower, and so on. In this case, the branch and almond flower are willing to be molded without ‘murmuring’ or ‘envy’.
Even though the Gold Lampstand is ready and put in the Holy Place, this room will still be dark if the lamps are not lit. The lamps must be filled with pure oil of pressed olive and the wicks be burnt so that the lamps may be kept burning from evening till morning (Exodus 27:20-21).
Application: Churches of God must be one in unity although they come from ‘various denominations’ as well as ‘beatings or tests’ because Jesus, the High Priest, takes control over it all. To shine brightly, the church of God must be burnt with the fire of the Holy Spirit.
To do good work, one needs to sacrifice. But, to whom we should be good? Jesus asks what credit will we get if we do good to those who are good to us. If we do good to the ungrateful and wicked person, we will obtain great reward and we will be made children of God (Luke 6:33,35). The light shines anywhere without favouritism; the more the lamp sacrifice itself, the brighter its light will be. Isn’t God just? He causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous (Matthew 5:45).
The Apostle Paul gave an example to us, like the Gold Lampstand, he shone the light of joy even though he was suffering for Christ. His joy was marked with self-sacrifice. The old Paul, who was imprisoned, could work together with the young Timothy to serve God seriously and peacefully. Paul wrote verses by verses in tears and wounds of suffering, yet he kept rejoicing. Each of his letters is begun and ended with peace and grace of God. How about us? We long to be united but it is hard to sacrifice our self-pride resulting in our showing off or taking pride in having the greatest teaching, etc.
May grace and peace of God be with us to streghten our following and ministry to Him so that we are able to keep rejoicing although we must sacrifice and suffer for the sake of righteousness and the unity the body of Christ, for the salvation and the reward have been provided and waiting for us. Amen.
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