Sunday, May 17
Read Philippians 2:19-4:1
In 2:19-24, Paul seems anxious to get news about his friends, frustrated by people around him who are self-serving, and joyful that Epaphroditus has survived a major illness. Life is complicated and many-layered. Do you think it is possible to be anxious/worried and joyful at the same time? How are both of those faithful responses to life? Are there situations/ways when anxiety or joy may not be appropriate?
In the same verses, it is also obvious how Paul is working with coworkers, companions, and colleagues. Each one’s work counts. Each has a role to play. Who are the people in your life who help you do God’s work? How do their gifts compliment your own? What is your own role?
In 3:2-11, Paul seems to be addressing some opponents who are trying to convince the Philippians to be circumcised. At issue is really about who can be considered “in” or “out” of the people of God. Paul says he has every reason to be confident in passing the opponents’ standards (he’s circumcised, he was born a Hebrew from the tribe of Benjamin, he’s a Pharisee and a careful follower of the law). BUT he says none of that matters now. It’s all rubbish. We all have access to God through Christ so we are all one in Him. What are the standards you use sometimes to judge who is in or out of your own circle? In what ways do we sometimes do that as a church?
In 3:17 Paul says “join in imitating me, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us…Our citizenship is in heaven” (as opposed to those who pride themselves as being good citizens of the Hebrew nation, or pride themselves on being good Roman citizens, with the values that come with that). Who are the people who are examples of faith for you? What about their faith and the way they live their lives makes you want to be more like them?
We are using a Bible study called “Office Hours”, co-taught by Brennan Breed at Columbia Theological Seminary and Chris Holmes at First Presbyterian Atlanta. The four week study will discuss Paul’s letter to the Philippians.