Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the three-year lectionary.
In our Epistle reading for this week, from Philippians chapter 1, the apostle Paul is in prison. Sadly, this is not an unusual situation for him. In the Book of Acts, Paul seems to spend a good bit of time recovering from assault, being imprisoned, or otherwise being detained somewhere.
Although I said it was a common situation “sadly,” Paul doesn’t seem to view it that way. Certainly he didn’t enjoy being locked up in prison. There are things any of us would rather do than receive a beating or have stones thrown at us. Yet Paul seemed to take it in stride.
Behind this attitude of confidence and steadfastness in suffering is a powerful reason. Paul says he is all right with suffering because it is allowing him to be present for those around him. The Gospel is being proclaimed. His guards and other people are seeing the way he lives as a servant of Christ. He hopes to be released from prison and have opportunity to serve the Christian communities wherever he can go.
Would it be better for Paul if he were to die and be with Christ? It certainly would. However, Paul will accept his imprisonment and torture so as to be available to his Christian brothers and sisters. There will come a time when he will die and be with Christ. But for now, he is content to be of assistance in this earth.
This was, after all, the mind of Christ. He laid down heavenly glory to come for our benefit, living and dying on our behalf. May the Lord give us the same mind, that we would live for our neighbor so long as we live on this earth, and then we would live for God in eternity.
If this brief meditation was helpful to you, I hope you will check out the other materials on our website at www.WittenbergCoMo.com and consider supporting us.