JohnSWilson3 Blog

“I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.”
March 28, 2010, 2:04 pm
Filed under: M Letter to Philippians

Paul constantly had these brothers and sisters in Christ at Philippi on his mind and prayed for them as the Lord brought them to remembrance. When Paul remembers them, just like you and I, he would remember stories and experiences they had together. Those stories, the sharing of each others lives together, are important in bonding us together into that “fellowship in the gospel” that Paul was reminded of, and with joy!

It has been perhaps a few years since he last saw these Christians, but I have a hunch that Paul traveled back and forth from one area to the next and all of those times may not have been included in the Acts. Given my hunch I think it safe to say that Paul would often go to Philippi either leaving from or returning to Macedonia as he did at the tail end of his third church planting mission. He enjoyed his time with this community of believers!

Paul perhaps remembers the time he and his companions first journeyed into Macedonia, today’s northern Greece, sailing from Troas, in today’s Turkey. He probably could remember the time where he and his companions talked to each other of Christ while they walked along the river, praying to the Lord, talking to the Lord, speaking of the Lord, singing songs to the Lord. How I wished that could be my experience one day with others! Paul then met up with others who were at the river. So they decided to sit down and “began to speak to the women who had gathered there.” It just so happened that they met “Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was a worshipper of God.” She had a hunger for God, she was seeking God, and when Paul and his companions showed up, God showed up! Paul and his companions expressed Jesus through love for one another, how they spoke to one another, how they humbled themselves to one another, how they spoke of Christ to one another, and how they sang songs to Christ. And Paul spoke of the good news of Jesus! And “the Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message.” What stories Paul had with these Philippian Christians!

Paul writes how “it is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart.” Can we as followers of Jesus, who have His life in us feel the same towards our other brothers and sisters in Christ? If someone visited our meetings or gatherings together in familial places, times meant for non-religious face to face sharing of Jesus’ life together, what would their confidence of our expression of Jesus living through us, be like? Paul had them in his heart! Brothers and sisters this cannot happen without spending much time together! It takes much grace from God to spend that much time with our other brothers and sisters in Christ. When we get to know each other well, like a marriage, there will be disagreements, dislikes, and this will be quite irritating and frustrating if it were not for God’s grace! “For whether I am in chains defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me.” Paul is part of this community of believers. Wherever Paul went, wherever there was a body of believers, he considered himself a part of that community. Wherever we go, wherever there are a group of followers of Jesus, we are part of that community of brothers and sisters of Christ. Christ is not divided!

Brothers and sisters we need to get to know one another! We need to be able to tell ourselves stories, or testimonies, of how we long for each other with the affection of Christ Jesus! This doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time, much time, getting to know each other, our families, our likes and dislikes, and what we are finding out about the Lord Jesus. It is not just an affection for one another, because we know each other really well, while that is a part of it, it is “the affection of Christ Jesus.” There is a love that comes up from deep inside of us, from Jesus Himself, that wants to shower us with His affections, His grace and mercy, His wonderful love. It is a sacrificial love, a love based in humility! It is a love found in every believer that can come only from the Lord, and it is a love that is dependent upon our inner life with the Spirit of Jesus. How I need to get to know Jesus more in my inner man!

Paul now describes his prayer “with joy because of your fellowship in the gospel.” “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God.” Myself I think that that sentence ought to end with an exclamation point! Praise God! Paul said almost the same prayer for the Christians in Thessalonica, and course his love for these Christians was right up their with those from Philippi: “May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones” and “Now about brotherly love we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. And in fact, you do love all the brothers throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers, to do so more and more.” Love is learned, love progresses, love abounds in the lives of followers of Jesus who focus on Him as Lord and nothing else and the results are strengthened spiritual lives, a strengthened life with Jesus and His body.

How do we get to know someone really well, whether spouse or child or friend? We get to know them, we spend time with them. I like Josh McDowell’s quote from his excellent book The Father Connection: Children spell love T.I.M.E. We really do not know how to love someone until we spend time with them. That’s Paul’s prayer: continue to spend more time with each other, get to know each other really well, in so doing you get to know the things they like, the things they are learning about the Lord and in so doing they get to know me, you in the same way. Fellowship is fellowship when it is a mutual sharing of our lives together. Fellowship is never one sided, it is always seeking the best for one another. This helps live out lives that are authentic and real, there is no mask on in our relationships, it is all out in the open. When this happens then pure and blameless or sincerity and living unoffending lives between each other become the norm.

But this “knowledge and depth of insight” must never be focused so much on our natural selves. It must be based on Christ in us! We are in fellowship because of being “in the gospel” – the Lord Jesus Christ! We are not just to spend time together and then later we’re done, our spending time together must continue “until the day of Christ”! Wow! How we in America are so shallow in our relationships that this doesn’t even compute in our minds. I’m not sure I can even fathom this myself. We are so “discombobulated” as I heard the term from Frank Viola at a conference one time! We fish for friendships, and when we have one, we’re fishing for another (like on facebook or some other electronic medium…LOL). We are not connected in face to face relationships, they are pseudo relationships, as Ralph Neighbour Jr. would say, that can never grow “in knowledge and depth of insight.” Lord help me to have a few brothers and sisters in Christ whom we can get to know each other and families really well so that truly our “love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that (we) may be able to discern what is best and may be pure (sincere) and blameless (unoffending) until the day of Christ”!

Paul doesn’t stop there! He goes on and says “filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God”! Brothers and sisters, Jesus is right! When we love each other as He loved us, then the world will know that we are His disciples! When we love each other as He loved us it will be like putting a candle on a hill at night, everyone will be able to see it! God desires to find a home among every tribe and peoples! God desires to see humanity born again, children of God, who love Him affectionately! When we so get to know one another “with the affection of Christ Jesus” God does something to and in us. We become “filled” with His fruit! Jesus Christ who lives in us want’s to be fully expressed through us. Some of us, me included have some of his light shining through us, but He wants to find a full expression of Himself through His body! The more we get to know one another, and truly love each deeply from the heart, He will fill us with His fruit that will blossom more in and through our lives. When this continues to happen then God is glorified because He is seeing more of His Son coming through us! Others will be born from the seed of that fruit! Jesus wants to be expressed in order to bring “glory and praise” to God! Amen!

4 Comments so far
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I Enjoyed Reading this

Comment by John Wilson Sr

Thanks dad, this thought has been something I have been learning for quite some time and think God finally gave me the right time really understand it and to share it.

Comment by John Wilson

I’m really happy to be happened to read your writing among such random search on “affection of Christ”. God bless you, brother 🙂
This is really why we should have come to cell group. More than just ɑ fellowship, we need to feel genuine love and affection, which can only be given by Jesus, God Himself through His children around us.

Comment by priskila

amen sister!

Comment by John Wilson

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