162646_178646685493686_4076189_nOnly let us hold true to what we have attained – Philippians 3:16

After discovering that ¨Widjiitiwin¨ is Ojibwe for ¨Fellowship,¨ I was compelled to consider the implications in this ministry’s name. What immediately came to mind was Paul’s letter to the Philippians; and like a good Christian, I got around to reading it a month and a half after the thought! Through prayerfully examining the text in the past few days, this is what I have found so far on the matter.

Out of the strong impression of gospel partnership Paul has with the Philippians, his letter to them shines brightly and warmly of joy. He thanks his God in all of his remembrance of them; confident, at the evidence of grace alive in them, that their salvation will be fully realized when the LORD completes the restoration of the earth. And though they faced disturbing opposition and circumstance, where evildoers were propounding what is contrary to the gospel, and an air of rivalry and disunity was infecting the congregation, Paul passionately urges his partners to be worthy of the gospel. He demonstrates that this is accomplished by fixing the mind, heart, and body onto Christ. For the Philippians he reminds them of Christ and his humility in emptying himself, who therefore is highly exalted with all authority in heaven and on earth. When this was realized they knew that they didn’t need to be afraid of their opponents, and were able to resolve their differences through an extremely intimate understanding of the surpassing worth of Christ and what he has planned for ¨the fullness of time¨ (Eph 1:10).

Paul communicates that this is not easily achieved. Believers still maintain a level of hostility towards God, still exposed to the incessant loud appeals of the world, and assailed by satanic lies. There is a particular kind of suffering in the daily violent denial of sin, satan, and the world in order to maintain a God-centred lifestyle. But Paul, nearing the end of his embattled life, with all things considered, joyfully declares it is worth suffering the loss of all worldly prestige and comfort in order to live for the sake of gaining Christ; who is supremely far better than the rubbish the world offers.

So what is the key mark of true fellowship? The answer is Christ! By beholding and savouring his worth, we develop an eagerness to do all that it takes, no matter how laborious, to stimulate real fellowship. But how can we behold and savour Christ if we don’t take the time to know him through the means he has abundantly provided? The more we consider his thoughtful caring power in creation (Ps 8:1), the more we prize his Word (Ps 119:97), the more we embrace his comforting presence in prayer (James 5:13), the more organically involved and united we are with fellow saints (John 17:21), the more missional we are in the advancement of the gospel (1 Cor 9:23), and the more we long for his return (Matt 6:10), the more we will be filled with Christ and his righteousness (Gal 2:20), making devotion to God, through cloud and sunshine, more readily attainable in the everyday practical matters (Heb 13:21).

We will never reach perfection during this time, but we must press on to make it our own because Christ Jesus has made us his own. Too easily Christians get drowsy, suffer from gospel amnesia, and be so deeply encumbered with fear and care because of ¨broken bones¨ (Ps 51:8). Paul tearfully reminds readers the dangers of setting the mind on earthly things and beckons to take hold of the heavenly citizenship in order to be utterly dominated by the worth of Christ. Only then, by the Spirit of truth, will we guard our hearts and together be worthy of the gospel of peace, holding true to all that we have attained in Christ. Vague spirituality will never be enough.

This, by poignant experience, the LORD has graciously taught me regarding myself.

Although I could go for some sushi right now, I’m thankful for his mercy in bringing me to Camp Widjiitiwin to supply growth in grace. What a tremendous blessing it has been to be brought into the presence of God through the fruit of my fellow servants here, both those older and younger than me in the faith. Stunned that he is so eternally patient and loving to someone so unlovable to bring about holiness. Truly he does all the carrying, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. To Him alone be all the glory!

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

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