There’s a lot of bad news swirling around the Christian church today. Maybe it’s always been that way.
This was certainly the case in the Apostle Paul’s day. In nearly every letter her writes he addresses some kind of challenge against – or within – the church. Apparently it’s a constant: lots of really challenging societal issues to navigate and political realities to figure out and cultural differences right in the church… In other words, it’s always been a challenge for Christians to learn how to live as Christians in a non-Christian culture.
Ancient Christians in Philippi had to figure it out like modern Christians in California have to figure it out.
And Paul’s prayer for them, then (and for us, now) is this:
. “That their/our love may abound…” That love will be in abundance and may exceed a quantifiable amount.
. That they’ll/we’ll have “knowledge and depth of insight…”
One ancient Christians puts it like this: That they’ll “Be able to distinguish what is useful from what is useless” – Ambrosiaster Another sees it like this: “That they will not receive any corrupted doctrine under the pretense of love” – Chrysostom
. And that they/we may be pure and blameless and filled with the fruit of righteousness.
In other words, Paul prays that
. The people in the church will love one another.
. The people in the church will know what to do and how to live.
. The people in the church, whatever they do – because they might not always agree – will be pure and blameless, not manipulative or two-faced, so that they will experience the results of living a righteous life.
Like what results, exactly?
Like joy even in the face of real adversity.