Lectio: November 2004 Archives

Back to Phillippians


Returning now to the point we left off in chapter 1.

Phillippians 1: 12-18

I want you to know, brethren, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ; and most of the brethren have been made confident in the Lord because of my imprisonment, and are much more bold to speak the word of God without fear.

From His own life an illustration of one of Paul's most hopeful, jubilant, and joyful sayings, "All things work to the good of those who love Him." Here Paul rejoices in his imprisonment because through it he has gained another audience. The whole Praetorian Guard knows that his imprisonment is for Christ. What they make of this, we do not know. But surely they know enough to realize that a man willing to endure such confinement because of his beliefs is a man worth listening to. And if they are listening, they are hearing about Jesus. Paul is always pointing to Jesus. To everyone around him Paul speaks of Jesus and rejoices in Christ.

Rejoicing in chains--it makes one think. Think for a moment of your own chains--most of them are probably self-made. The worst of our captivities is self-imposed. We enslave ourselves to sin, we give in to temptation. Heck, if the truth be told (and I'm sure I'm not alone in this) I downright go out looking for tempations if they can't readily be found at home. We're smart and we're bored and we're looking for something that will fill the vast empty spaces. And Satan will see to it that we will find something that seems for a moment to do so. For a moment--but then the vast emptiness comes rushing back upon us. What could be worse captivity that this?

But Paul rejoices in chains, because his chains are not of his own making. They are merely material chains--the things we chafe against. I can't stand the fact that I can't buy what I want whenever I want. If truth be told, I'm certain that more than half of my dislike for the wealthy stems not from their perceived arrogance and paltryness, but rather from my own desire to have the opportunity to be the same. A little more money, a little more fame, a little more sex, a little more. . . these are the chains that really bind. And Paul is free of them and rejoicing in his imprisonment. He rejoices because in his own captivity he frees those around him. His chains are of the moment and his presence and witness frees many from the chains that are of eternity.

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Communal Lectio


Yesterday Tom shared with us some of the fruit of his reflection on the Sunday scriptures. And it was odd, but the same scripture struck me for quite a different reason.

from Wisdom

For you love all things that are
and loathe nothing that you have made;
for what you hated, you would not have fashioned.
And how could a thing remain, unless you willed it;
or be preserved, had it not been called forth by you?
But you spare all things, because they are yours,
O LORD and lover of souls,
for your imperishable spirit is in all things!

In the spirit of communal lectio, I'll share what occurred to me in reading the passage.

There are some who maintain that humanity is utterly depraved and in the fall from grace all created things were dragged down with him and made low. That is that all creation is in some part bad, unworthy, or a constant spur to evil behavior.

What struck me here is once again the reaffirmation that what God has created is fundamentally good. He would not have created what is evil, it is not in him to do so. More, all of creation is sustained by Him, has life breathed into it by Him. All of creation is fundamentally good. And I think that extends to the fallen angels themselves. They are, in creation, fundamentally good. They have chosen through their own will to deny the good. They are ultimately negative, creating or causing nothing in themselves, but reacting to all that is and negating it. Nevertheless, they cannot negate themselves. God will put them away at the end of time, but until then, they continue in their rebellion against the basic goodness of all things.

Without becoming Pantheistic, we can say that His breath is in all breathing things, His life is in all living things. All things exist because of His constant intense love and attention. Without that all things would fly apart and become nothing. He sustains all with the eternal hope that all things will return to Him and the eternal knowledge that He has made it possible through His son.

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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Lectio category from November 2004.

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