Monday, March 12, 2018
Paul Prays Again
And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you to determine what is best, so that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.
Paul, as a spiritual leader and mentor to many, is constantly modeling prayer. In this opening greeting to the church in Philippi, he begins with a prayer. His concern is for the spiritual well-being of the people of God. As followers of Christ, their lives were to be defined by love. This love was not only to be seen in and among the church community, but was also to overflow and touch those around them. Christianity was to become marked by this love of neighbor.
The ministry of the church in Philippi was to live into the wisdom of God. This would help them to have knowledge far beyond their own skills and abilities, and would give them insight into the best pathways in which to more forward. The Christian life is to be one of on-going and continual growth in the direction of Christ. The result is one who is pure and blameless, a church and a community of believers who will be able to work in God’s harvest field, reaping in such a way that God will get all the glory and the praise.
Have you ever heard of a BHAG? That’s a “Big Hairy Audacious Goal.” Often BHAGs are far beyond our personal capacity to comprehend. They seem beyond our reach and, quite possibly, beyond our skills to achieve. At the same time, I think we serve a God with a lot of BHAGs. My sense is that God had given Paul a vision for the ministry in Philippi that was much larger than the original circle of believers who met at Lydia’s home. But these people had no roadmaps for church planting. They had no “how-to” books, nor did they have mentors who knew how to describe to them where things were going. Could this group of people have ever imagined that Christianity would eventually become the religion of the Roman Empire? Not hardly, and yet, within 300 years, it did.
Paul knew that prayer was key to participating in God’s extraordinary vision. In no way would a small band of people be able to realistically take on the task before them. To even know how big the task was would have been overwhelming. Instead, Paul realized the need to pray for their spiritual lives and development. These people needed to know Christ if they were to participate in world-changing activities. To know Christ was to live a life infused with holy love, and this, overflowing. We are to draw closer to Christ, every day of our lives. Just as Paul, we are to bathe all that we do in prayer and, while in Christ’s presence, allow the Holy Spirit to work in and through us. In prayer we are blessed to participate in the fellowship of the Triune God. Here, we receive insights that are far beyond our own personal comprehension. It is in this space of prayer that a group of believers in a town called Philippi can catch a glimpse of God’s BHAG.
Not only can we catch a glimpse of God’s BHAG, but we can discover access to the necessary resources to go after the dream, or the vision. Suddenly we may have a strategic plan, working in a way that we would have never imagined. But this only happens when it truly comes from God. God doesn’t need us to figure out the strategic plan. God already knows how to do what God is doing! We are to get to know Christ, and through knowing him, we will begin to see the plan, and produce a harvest.
Jesus came preaching peace, and the kingdom of God. These are incredible dreams, and Paul believed that through prayer, God’s people could begin to participate in God’s audacious goal.
Lord, the vision and dream is larger than anything that we can begin to imagine. May it begin by participation in you. Amen