Faith Under Pressure
A Study in Philippians
"A good old moan" seems to be the normal basis for conversation in
Australia. We complain about the weather, about our aches and
pains, the government, the trains, our children, our parents .and
the list goes on. If we listened carefully to ourselves we would
perhaps see just how negative about life we often are. If we were
honest, however, we would see just how little we really have to
complain about - as we often say, ''There's always those worse off
than yourself." Paul was someone who learned how to triumph, even
in very difficult circumstances. When he wrote this particular
letter which will form the basis for the study, he was in prison
facing a possible death sentence. He had often encountered real
difficulties - opposition and physical persecution, hunger and
thirst and the pressures of life as a leader in the early church
-bringing people to faith, helping them grow and worrying when
things went wrong.
During the study we’ll meet
Paul the enthusiast
These were the things Paul faced. If he had been us he would have
been in the depths despair! Instead this letter bounces with a joy
and an enthusiasm which comes from his relationship to Christ.
Facing death he says, "For me to live is Christ, to die is
Facing opposition he says, "I count it all as loss in order to know
Facing hunger he says, "I can do all things in him who strengthens
He calls on his readers to, "Rejoice in the Lord always". As we
face our problems Paul's letter encourages us to trust in Christ
with the same joyful faith and to share our faith with others, as
he was doing even in prison.
During the study we’ll also meet,
Paul the pastor
The letter also shows Paul's concern for the Christians in
Philippi. We see his pastoral concern time and time again. He
expresses the depth of his love for them; his concern for their
spiritual growth. He helps them face up to the problems of
opposition, of disunity, of false teaching. His concern for
individuals is seen in his words about Epaphroditus and Timothy, in
Chapter 2 and Euodia and Syntyche in Chapter 4. (If you’d like to
revisit this, re read the Vicar’s reflection in last year’s Book of
Reports) Paul expresses his appreciation of the financial support
they had sent to him. We see the very close bond between Paul and
those in his care. These passages therefore have a challenge for us
the life of our fellowships and our concern for others.
It is a very Christ-centred letter but at the same time it is very
practical and challenging and will help us as we seek to live out
the Christian life to the full.
Faith Under Pressure commences on the 9th of August.
It will run weekly in the Moller room, at St. Mark's on Tuesday
nights at 7:00 PM
for more details.