Chapter 4:8-9 (ESV) - Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
Question to consider: In what way is the God of peace with us?
Even when Paul was in a prison in Philippi, he sang praises to God, and the jailer came to faith. Now that he was in a far more precarious circumstance in Rome, he was advising the church at Philippi to continue to think in a godly manner. Instead of arguing with one another, indulging in fleshly desire, or getting caught up in the cynicism of the world, Paul exhorts them to pursue truth, honor, justice and be pure, loving and commendable in their attitudes and actions. They should live a life of praise and thanksgiving which is what Paul did and encouraged them to model.
This advice also applies to us, and though it is difficult when the days are evil, Paul gave the Philippians (and us) the promise that the God of peace would be with us. Isaiah referred to the coming Messiah as the Tsar Shalom— the Prince (or Caesar) of Peace. Jesus is the sole arbiter of peace with the Father, and He promised He would be with us just as Paul described. Though Christ comforts us in our everyday lives and listens to our prayers, I would argue that a life that overflows with Christ is rooted in the church.
Moses told the Israelites in Deuteronomy 6:5, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might,” and Jesus affirmed it as the greatest command of the Law. I believe the church to be crucial in this. I would submit to you that Christ is physically present in the communion meal. In eating and drinking, we receive Christ like the priests of Israel received the sacrifice. Christ is spiritually present when we gather together with other believers in worship. Christ is mentally present through the reading and preaching of His word.
If you have received any value or insight from these studies, it is my prayer that you receive the message that the church is vital to the life of a Christian. Finding a bible-believing church is a difficult task, but not impossible. When you do, don’t focus on what it lacks, rather focus on how God is calling you to serve in it. More than likely, you will encounter some variation of Euodia and Syntyche when you do, but press on. Paul did not dismiss the church at Philippi over a few conflicts but rejoiced that they loved the Lord. Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.
Dear heavenly Father, may the peace of Christ reign in our hearts and overflow into our thoughts and actions. Thank You for loving us and forgiving us when we walked as Your enemy. Please help us to love and forgive those who sin against us in the name of Jesus. Amen.