Welcome to Friday’s podcast and thank you so much for journeying with me this week. I’ve really enjoyed getting stuck into Philippians and I really hope you have too. It’s great to hear that lots of people have been listening to the podcast this year, it’s always encouraging to know you’re not speaking into a black hole! The staff team work hard to produce something which we hope you find life giving, challenging and encouraging, so thank you for joining in and being part of this.
We finish this week with Philippians 2 verses 25-30. All week we’ve been looking at the idea of selflessness and today is no exception. Today Paul speaks plainly about the reality of living this kind of selfless life. He is very clear that his fellow worker Epaphroditus had come close to death during his service alongside Paul. Paul describes his own anxiety about the situation. He directs the church in verse 30 to;
‘welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honour people like him, because he almost died for the work of Christ. He risked his life to make up for the help you yourselves could not give me.’
This passage sounds a little like Paul is playing the blame game and making the Philippians feel bad because they weren’t able to help Paul. I don’t think this is what Paul is doing. Rather, this is all about honouring his friend Epaphroditus and emphasising the great cost he was willing to pay for the sake of sharing the Gospel with people.
We can feel quite removed from this passage; most of us will not risk our physical lives for the Gospel. Of course that is not true for many of our brothers and sisters around the world for whom these verses must read very differently.
It has made me think though, what’s the cost that I am willing to pay to follow God’s call on my life? Or maybe the question should be at what point would we say ‘that’s too much’, ‘that’s too much of an ask Lord’. Where would the cost kick in for us? What would be too hard? What’s the area of our life that would be hardest for us to ‘give up’? Maybe it’s around finances and the idea of giving 10% to our church? Maybe we’d struggle to give up our job title if God called us to something else? Would we be OK if following Jesus required us to pause our career plans? The list could be endless.
On Friday nights here at STC the youth church gather. Before they arrive, members of our team rush from work, university or family to set up, pray and prepare the space for the young people. Every Friday this amazing bunch of leaders count the cost of being able to crash at home after a long week or go out with their university or work friends and they turn up to serve, to love our young people. They have decided to give up the precious gift of time for the sake of seeing young lives transformed. In 10 years time I doubt (in fact I know, having walked in their school) that any of them will look back and think ‘I wish I hadn’t given up all that time’, ‘I wish I’d stayed home on Fridays’. No! They will reflect on the lives they had the privilege of impacting and the amazing things they saw God do.
Paul is plain about the reality of following Jesus, it’s risky, it might cost everything. But as we’ve seen time and time again this week choosing a selfless life, a life that puts others first, a life that prioritises the things of God means that we have the opportunity to ‘Shine like Stars’, to be part of God’s plans for change, transformation and hope.
God thank you that the writers of the Bible never hide the reality of what it costs to follow you. Please reveal to us today if there is anything we are holding back from you. Any part of our life that isn’t fully surrender to your will. Help us to trust you, follow you and join you in your plans to bring transformation and hope to the world.
READING: PHILIPPIANS 2:25-30
But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, co-worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs. For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow. Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety. So then, welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honour people like him, because he almost died for the work of Christ. He risked his life to make up for the help you yourselves could not give me.