If you look at the news during the coronavirus pandemic worldwide there is a growing concern among economic experts that there will be a global economic collapse even worse than past global depressions. There are growing fears in the world not only of the loss of health and life but also of the loss of income and provisions.
But as Christians we have a calling to be part of an eternal, profitable business enterprise formed by God the Father and His Son which never lacks provision, and which never closes shop and never goes bankrupt no matter what. This eternal enterprise is part of an eternal kingdom led by our King of kings and Lord of lords:
“So, when they saw Him, they were amazed; and His mother said to Him, ‘Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously.’ And He said to them, ‘Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?’‘’ (Luke 2:48-49).
The Church at Philippi model Family Business
We can learn and be encouraged by Paul’s letter to the Philippians because Paul considered the Philippian church members as partners in God’s family enterprise.
Paul did God’s business at Philippi during his second missionary journey. During this first stay in Philippi, Paul brought to faith in Christ people who would form the core of the burgeoning congregation in that city. Among them were Lydia, a businesswoman who opened her home to Paul and his co-workers (Acts 16:13–15), Then there was the Philippian jailer, who was converted under Paul’s ministry after an earthquake miraculously broke open the prison (Acts16:22–34).
Paul wrote to express his appreciation for his Philippian partners. More than any other church, the believers in Philippi, even in their poverty, offered Paul material support for his ministry (2 Corinthians 8:11; Philippians 4:15–18). Paul in turn encouraged them to live out their faith in joy and unity and to continue the good work that they were doing even during the challenging times that they were enduring:
“He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).
“To live is Christ and to die is gain” (1:21).
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (4:6-7)
“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (4:13)
“Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that more be credited to your account. I have received full payment and have more than enough. I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” (4:17-19)
The example of Jesus Christ
The portrait of Jesus Christ as a humble servant serves as the core of Paul’s teaching in this letter to the Philippian church (2:5–11).
“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father”
Paul thus encouraged the Philippians and today, he encourages us, that even during adversity we are united in partnership with Christ:
“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind (Philippians 2:1-4).
In the sixty years of AEFI’s work in Asia we have heard and continue to hear of exciting testimonies and stories from our national workers, who like Paul invested their lives in humility in God’s sustainable and profitable business – of seeing many souls saved, baptized disciples and national leaders being built through trials and hardship. Many church and individual partners have come alongside AEFI, and like the Philippian church, they have themselves been sustained to know that they enjoy the same rewards in heaven.
We press on in Christ that the joy of those who have gone before us to heaven, and that of G.D. James, our founder - will be complete.
Jonathan M. Cortes