Sounds of My Writings: Prisoner of Joy
When we read the bible and meditate on its words we should also consider the history, the geography, the demographics, and the culture of the people which the Bible is addressing or revealing. The story of Paul and this wonderful letter (epistle) to the Church at Philippi begins not on a mountain top overseeing the sea of Galilee, nor does it begin on the vast hills with newly born lambs running up and down a green pasture to meet their shepherd. No, it begins in a dark cave, as a man of God is imprisoned by a society that hates "Good News". You see the Romans didn't imprison Paul because of a heinous crime but rather for spreading the liberating news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Have you ever been around people or have participated in a culture of people who just hates "good news"? They have been so cultivated in bad news that just the mention of "good news" becomes a crime!
Paul found himself in a dungeon with his ankles chained awaiting his release because after all, he was innocent in the eyes of God, but guilty in the eyes of man. He didn't scream, he didn't cry, he didn't give up hope nor did he wave the white towel and surrender his faith to the overwhelming circumstances that can plague an individual facing prison time in the hands of an enemy. This Godly hero begins his letter thanking God for the people he has been able to serve. His mind was not on his circumstance, nor was it in a 5 by 10 cell with the damp smell of muddy water. No, he thanks God for every moment he had to serve the people of God. He learns the importance of prayer since he has no one to talk to, no one to sing with, no one to encourage him. You see his prayer is not the type of prayer of someone helpless nor hopeless but one who knows his God and says " I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel". He loses no confidence in the character and faithfulness of God because after all he clearly understood that his "apostolic call" would probably invite death to constantly knock on his door.
Paul was confident, he was determined, he was convinced and he was emotional about his God and the message that he had the privilege of sharing. He completes his dissertation similar to the way he began this letter - in prayer. Stating that the most important essence and experience that anyone who suffers similar circumstances should seek and acquire is the divine love of Christ and the knowledge that produces the fruit of righteousness among the brethren.
You see I am convinced of this, that people who are afraid, imprisoned, confused, hurt, hopeless and angry just need one thing, a taste of the divine love that comes from the throne of God. If you find yourself in similar circumstances I challenge you to seek the face of Jesus and ask him for the anointing of his divine love that flows continually from his heart to yours!
3 I thank my God every time I remember you. 4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
7 It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. 8 God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.
9 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.