The God of peace and the peace of God - Adrian Jones
The Letter to the Philippians is sometimes called ‘the Letter of Joy’ because of the overwhelming sense of contented peacefulness that St Paul conveys in his words about the person of Christ, his encounter with him and the difference that makes to Paul, and can make to all believers, even in very difficult circumstances.
One commentator writes: “The letter is dominated by a spirit of joy and peace, and is an outstanding witness to the power of Christ to lift the person weighed down with the sorrow and suffering of earth to rejoicing and gladness in the Lord.”
It is a whole letter though , not a series of uplifting quotes and separate verses – an interconnected whole. Although we want to understand Paul’s thinking and the truth about God that he is so keen to share, we ought to be cautious about picking it apart until we have a sense of this whole.
So my first suggestion this week is that you take some time to read the whole letter in one sitting. It is only four chapters, so why not pour a cup of something warming, imagine yourself receiving this rolled parchment from the hand of a messenger, and settle down to read the letter in its entirety.
As you read though, be alert to the big themes that Paul has in mind – and imagine him talking directly to you, as a friend who values your faith, appreciates all you’ve gone through and now wants to encourage you to reach for the very best that God has for you.
When you’ve finished reading (not too fast!) allow the words in their entirety to sink in and make an impression on you…and then ask the God of peace to grant you his good gifts today. Whatever your circumstances, resolve to live as Paul describes in chapter 4 and to accept God’s gift of peace.
You are loved. Christ has done everything needful to make you safe. Now God longs to give you his peace. Turn to him with gratitude and allow joy to return.