The whole EnCh
. Philippians 1
"But what do you do?"
"I work through a scripture passage, verses in a theme, explaining their original setting-the writer, the time, his purpose-and show how God's Word is meant for all of us today."
"What about when you get to awkward parts?" she asked.
"Ha! Well, funny thing--a few years ago I was in a part in one of the Corinthian letters talking about circumcision...okay, yeah that's awkward, right? I wrestled with skipping over it to the next part which seemed more relevant. I decided to query the readership of Morning Briefings (folks spread across 134 countries), and they said, 'do it all-every single verse.' That was my answer."
"So that's the reason you were willing to talk about the persecution and martyring of Christians today?"
"Oh yes. I thought to just stick to the first of those verses about "living as citizens of Heaven, worthy of the gospel," but as I wrote, wrangled and prayed, something would not let me."
She looked across the table and simply nodded. I guess she understood.
Friends, one more thing - though we seek to understand scriptures on their own, seek to apply them to our lives - we also cannot forget to look at them in their context.
And so I give you Philippians chapter one, the whole enchilada - not even broken up with verse numberings - from the newly published Christian Standard Bible, of which I am quite fond:
Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus:
To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers and deacons.
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I give thanks to my God for every remembrance of you, always praying with joy for all of you in my every prayer, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. I am sure of this, that he who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Indeed, it is right for me to think this way about all of you, because I have you in my heart, and you are all partners with me in grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how deeply I miss all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. And I pray this: that your love will keep on growing in knowledge and every kind of discernment, so that you may approve the things that are superior and may be pure and blameless in the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God.
Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually advanced the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard, and to everyone else, that my imprisonment is because I am in Christ. Most of the brothers have gained confidence in the Lord from my imprisonment and dare even more to speak the word fearlessly. To be sure, some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of good will. These preach out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel; the others proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, thinking that they will cause me trouble in my imprisonment. What does it matter? Only that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is proclaimed, and in this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice because I know this will lead to my salvation through your prayers and help from the Spirit of Jesus Christ. My eager expectation and hope is that I will not be ashamed about anything, but that now as always, with all courage, Christ will be highly honored in my body, whether by life or by death.
For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. Now if I live on in the flesh, this means fruitful work for me; and I don't know which one I should choose. I am torn between the two. I long to depart and be with Christ-which is far better- but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for your sake. Since I am persuaded of this, I know that I will remain and continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that, because of my coming to you again, your boasting in Christ Jesus may abound.
Just one thing: As citizens of heaven, live your life worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or am absent, I will hear about you that you are standing firm in one spirit, in one accord, contending together for the faith of the gospel, not being frightened in any way by your opponents. This is a sign of destruction for them, but of your salvation-and this is from God. For it has been granted to you on Christ's behalf not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, since you are engaged in the same struggle that you saw I had and now hear that I have.
Oh, how I love God's words to us.