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Thursday, January 6, 2011

The deepest love - Philippians 1:15-18

The Andy Griffith Show was and still is one of my very favorite shows.  It was great fun but it was also a great study of Biblical principles.  In fact, Joey Fann and Brad Grasham developed a Bible class, "Finding the Way Back to Mayberry," using 12 episodes from The Andy Griffith Show as parables; referring to Matthew 13:34 as the key to the lesson series' purpose and success:  "All this Jesus said to the crowds in parables; indeed he said nothing to them without a parable."  The first class debuted in June of 1998 at the Twickenham Church of Christ in Huntsville, Alabama and was facilitated by Fann and Grasham.

When George Lindsay, who played Goober in the series, was asked what he thought of the idea using the series for a Bible class, he replied, "One of the incredible things about every single episode is that Andy insisted each show have a moral point, something good, lofty and moral.  It's a shame current shows on TV don't adopt that high road."

What does this have to do with our study of Philippians?

While reading the notes on verses 15-18 the commentator said, "Paul knew he was facing a great ordeal, but took great pains not to alarm his friends.  His all-consuming concern was for the advancement of the gospel."

When I read that, I thought of the way Andy always took great care to protect the self-esteem and integrity of the people of Mayberry - especially Barney. 

Barney was like the Donald Duck of Mayberry.  He always said and did the wrong thing, always had his foot in his mouth and always jumped to the wrong conclusion.  Yet, Barney had a good heart and Andy knew that.  Andy was the quiet loving friend who was secure enough to "silently" protect his friend's honor.  He didn't go behind his back to make sure everyone else knew that he was the real hero.  Instead, he seemed to consider it an honor to promote his friend.

Philippians 1:15-18

It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill.  The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel.  The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains.  But what does it matter?  The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached.  And because of this I rejoice.

Like Paul, on the television show Andy's character was defined by one overall goal.  He was not selfish and he cared deeply for his friends.  Everything he did was measured by that definition.  It wasn't important who received the praise - what was important was that his friends were loved and cared for.

Paul also had a deep love for his followers.  He knew that trouble and sorrow was in the future.  He understood the danger for anyone that choose Christ over the Roman Empire.  He knew that he - and his friends - would suffer just like Christ has suffered.  His concern was not for his own feelings or even for his own reputation.  His concern was for his friends, followers and the great commission.  His concern wasn't for some type of earthly recognition but rather the heavenly vision and the message of Christ.  Paul defined his life as "an existence only to help forward the cause of Christ."

Today as I read this scripture, I thought about my own family and friends.  Do I preach and teach out of love and goodwill or are my actions self serving?  Do I live a life that points others to Christ or do others look at my life and lose their desire to be a Christian?  Am I willing to sacrifice my life, my reputation, my desires and my feelings so that others may find Christ?  Do I rejoice when Christ is elevated even if I am pushed to the side?

Did you know that when a palace guard was assigned to guard Paul, he was chained together with Paul?  This made a captive audience for the gospel.  Many guards had to listen to Paul teach about Christ.  To combat this, some people tried to discredit Paul's influence.  While the church in Rome was becoming more confident about a trial, Paul was even more dedicated to follow his course of promoting Jesus Christ. 

In this scripture Paul lifts the bar a little higher for every follower of Christ.  Paul asks you to show the deepest love you can for your friends and for Christ.  He asks us to be aware that while our work for Christ is important - we must be concerned about the faith and feelings of those we influence.  We also must be more concerned about the "mission" of Christ rather than our participation in that mission.  In other words we should be willing to rejoice with others about their work as well as promoting our own work. 

The last thing Paul encourages us to do is probably the hardest.  He was pleased with his current condition.  He rejoiced that the gospel was being preached.  He was content.  To support this....later in Philippians 4:12 he states.... "I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do everything through him who gives me strength."

God loves you,


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