Transformed by Koinonia

Scripture Focus: Philippians 1.4-6
In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 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.

Reflection: Transformed by Koinonia
By John Tillman

The word Paul uses to describe the partnership that he feels with the Philippian church is koinonia. Like many Greek words, it has multiple shades of meaning. The word in English primarily refers to the “fellowship” of the church as a community. This meaning is not incorrect, but another interpretation is of being a business partner or having a “share” or investment together in a business. 

Paul knows what it is to have partners in business, having supported himself at times through the skilled trade of tentmaking which he had in common with Priscilla and Aquila. However, the business to which Paul is referring, that we all have a share in, is the gospel.

The business of the gospel is the “putting right” of everything in the cosmos. And the means by which we do so is by “fellowship” or “partnership” with Christ Jesus, whose work continues until “the day of Christ Jesus.” There is no koinonia with Christ without change.

In this phrase, Paul is redefining the ancient Jewish concept of the “Day of the Lord.” This is the “last day” to which Martha refers when discussing her brother Lazarus’s future resurrection and is sometimes called the “eighth day” to symbolize that God is both ending and renewing creation.

This is a day when all will be put right. The day of Lord will be a day of leveling. It will mean tearing down those who have built themselves up and lifting up those who have been crushed.  Earth will be transformed into another place—a place in keeping with all that God desires for us, but we are too foolish to ask for or seek.

Christ’s correction of the cosmos is not limited to all that is without us but includes all that is within us. It is not just Earth that will be transformed but Earthlings. We, each of us, have an inner cosmos that must succumb to a “Day of the Lord” transformation. Within us are exalted idols and habits that must be torn down. Within us are fruits of the spirit that we have trampled under selfish feet.

As we submit to him, Jesus will, with axe and fire, tear down in us what must burn, and with tender nourishing care will tend and cultivate the fruit that he always designed to grow in us. Christ is our partner and our koinonia with him means every trial, suffering, isolation, loss, and sadness, shall work together for our betterment, strengthening, and righteousness.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. — 2 Corinthians 4.6

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
Proverbs 14 (Listen 3:45) 
Philippians 1 (Listen -4:03)

This Weekend’s Readings
Proverbs 15 (Listen 3:36) Philippians 2 (Listen -3:45)
Proverbs 16 (Listen 3:15) Philippians 3 (Listen -3:21)

Read more about Jesus with Axe and Fire
John the Baptist describes a Christ who stands ready with both axe and fire. May we ask him regularly to cut down our idols.

Read more about Lamenting Materialism
In an environment in which some who claim Christ have suggested we sacrifice lives to save profitability, we need this lament more than ever.

Paul’s Example of Thankfulness

Scripture Focus: Philippians 1:3-5, 9-10

I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now…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 for the day of Christ…

Reflection: Paul’s Example of Thankfulness

By Jon Polk

Who has been used by God to help you in your walk with Christ? Who has come alongside you during difficult times? Who has helped shape you into the follower of Christ that you are today?

In his letters, Paul frequently gives thanks for other Christians that have been important in his life and he has good reasons to have fond feelings for the church in Philippi.

There, Paul met Lydia and a group of “God-fearing” women praying down by a river. Lydia and her household responded immediately to the Gospel message and she invited Paul to stay in her home. The fledgling Philippian church started by meeting in her house.

There, Paul was imprisoned after incurring the wrath of a slave owner. While he was praying and singing hymns, an earthquake broke open the prison doors! Because Paul chose not to escape, the jailer and his household came to faith.

There, Paul would return to minister at least three times following his initial visit. The church in Philippi began to financially support his traveling ministry. Their support was so significant that Paul would brag about them in a letter to another church.

So it is no surprise that Paul writes about them, “I thank my God every time I remember you.” How many people in your life can you say that about, that you thank God for them every time you think of them? Not only does Paul thank God for them, he also prays for them on a regular and frequent basis.

What exactly does Paul pray for them? He prays that their love increases and grows to overflowing. He prays that as their love grows, so does their relationship with God. He prays that their actions and motives would be pure, driven by this profound love.

When you think about those who have been influential in your life, is this the way you pray for them? Do you pray that they might have so much love that they can’t expend it all? Do you pray that their relationship with God grows and deepens? Do you pray as frequently for your friends as Paul says he does for the Philippians?

Perhaps we should.

So why don’t you take a moment now to thank God for significant people in your life. But don’t stop there. Like Paul did, send them a note letting them know how much you appreciate them. Surprise someone with encouragement today. You’ll be glad you did. And so will they.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Greeting

The Lord lives! Blessed is my Rock! Exalted is the God of my salvation!
Therefore will I extol you among the nations, O Lord, and sing praises to your Name.

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.

1 Kings 10
 (Listen – 4:27)
Phillipians 1 (Listen – 4:03)

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Read more about Paul’s Anti-Anti-Intellectualism
Paul’s intent was that developing faith should not be dependent on the eloquence of a speaker or the artfulness of argumentative tactics.

Read more about Paul’s First Sermon
Paul’s sermon is in response to a call for exhortation. The word Luke uses, paráklēsis, can imply an entreaty for help and is often translated as “comfort”