By Published On: October 20th, 2021Categories: Leader Blog, Meditation for Preparation0 Comments

Read: Philippians 4:14-23

As Paul concludes his letter to the church in Philippi, he gives us a glimpse into the very heart of this church.  Jesus said that where your treasure is, there your heart is also.  Paul spends the last paragraph of his letter giving thanks to God for the generosity and heart of the Philippian church.  Though they were not rich, they gave out of their poverty with joy.  

Poverty and joy.  We don’t necessarily see these two things as being related.  If we were to pair an attribute with poverty, misery would seem to be a better fit, but that impulse reveals our serious misconception of where joy is truly found.  We are bombarded every day with messages telling us that our joy and happiness can be found in the latest gadget, the newest fashion, the latest model, or even  the unlimited liberty of choosing how I live.  In my life, nothing has wrecked that definition and perception of joy like meeting and worshipping with the persecuted church.

When I was 18, I took my first international mission trip to Tarnow, Poland.  In my entire existence, I cannot recall a time when I said to myself, “I’d love to visit Poland one day!”  As a high schooler, I associated Poland with jokes about being Polish, but that was where God sent me. It was there that I met a small Baptist church community in the middle of this formerly communist country.  

By American standards these people were poor.  We had come from our homes in the suburbs of Knoxville.  They lived in small government housing apartment complexes with fields of uncut grass and dilapidated playgrounds.  We were high schoolers that drove our own cars to school.  Most of them walked or caught the bus to get around, and if they had a car, it was small and decades old.  Our church’s worship center seated 3,000 and had the latest technological gadgets.  The small room they met in to worship had a portable sound system, fluorescent lighting, and hymnals rather than a projection system.  We had a heated tub for baptisms.  Their baptisms took place below an interstate overpass in a river whose temperature was about 58 degrees in the middle of June.

However,  their lack of material things is not what I primarily remember about these people.  What first comes to mind is their tangible love, joy, and generosity that was poured out on us.  We worshipped together;  we laughed together;  we shared the message of the love of Christ with their neighbors and friends.  They fed us pizza with fried eggs as a topping and pickled soup that was literally like taking a jar of pickles, dumping the pickle juice in a saucepan and heating it up.  They were some of the most content and joyous people I have ever met.

When our plane landed in our beautiful new airport in Knoxville Tennessee, I got in my car that was bigger than any car I had seen while in Poland, but something inside me changed, and my perspective was permanently altered.  The facade of American consumerism had lost its appeal.  I had tasted of a joy and peace that nothing on this earth could provide.  I believe the Philippian church had experienced the same thing and wanted to be in on whatever God was doing, so they supported Paul despite their poverty.  

As we prepare for worship this Sunday, let’s look again at the sufficiency of Jesus.  Do you find Him to be enough for your every need?  Is your peace and contentment found in knowing Him and being found in Him?  If not, is it because you think you are right and the Bible is wrong?   Perhaps your perspective is flawed and you need correction.  For further contemplation, read Isaiah 40:9-31.