Philippians 1:7-8 – It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.
I began attending church as a young teenager. I remember several church rooms had peculiar names. Narthex and sanctuary conjured up ancient times in my mind, but fellowship hall seemed to make more sense. The fellowship hall served as the gathering place for people. Those earlier experiences led me to believe fellowship was all about coffee, cookies, and the occasional meal. Today I am no longer the young kid in church, and I have developed a deeper appreciation for the kind of Christian fellowship found in Philippians 1:7-8.
Apostle Paul came to Philippi during his second missionary journey (Acts 16:12-40). Some Philippians rejoiced upon hearing the gospel from him. Others became enraged. They beat Paul and threw him in jail. Paul was a most unusual jailbird. Rather than moan and groan about his mistreatment, Paul worshipped God and sang hymns from his jail cell. One would expect a prisoner to welcome any opportunity for release. However, an earthquake caused the door of Paul’s jail cell to open, and he did not go anywhere. He was always looking for an excuse to tell more people about Jesus.
Paul cared for the Philippian church a great deal. These Christian believers had shared life with him. They shared Paul’s intense love for Jesus. Some of these Philippian believers heard Paul proclaim hope in Christ at the city gates when he first arrived in their city. They worked alongside Paul since the early days of the first Philippian church that likely met in Lydia’s home. They were more than acquaintances. They had become family.
How about you? Do you have a local family of believers with whom you share love and life? We were created by God to do life together. If you know Jesus Christ as your Savior, then you are much more than a number in the books. You are a precious member of the family of God. You have brothers and sisters in Christ and your active partnership in the gospel is critical for the local church to function properly (1 Corinthians 12:24).
I urge you to seek the kind of Christian fellowship Paul had with the Philippian church. I just love to see people settle into their local church where they can do life together. My heart sings when I see Christians truly loving one another and working alongside each other to clearly proclaim to all who will listen, “There is hope for you in Jesus Christ!” There is nothing like true Christian fellowship where people can say like Paul, “I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.”