3 I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. 6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. 7 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. 8 For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. 9 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ,11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.I was struct by Paul's deep affection for this community of believers. It's clear Paul's Christianity isn't merely adherence to a collection of commandments or belief in a series of metaphysical propositions, but an experiential faith: worshipping a real God with actual people he loves and misses.
But I think the reason I found this passage so compelling was that I could tangibly relate. As my departure from Louisville approaches, I can't help but mourn all that pursuing this new path entails.
Being a part of Sojourn Community Church is one of the greatest joys in my life. I could talk about how being part of this community has challenged, encouraged, and edified me, but even that would be primarily speaking in individualistic terms. Gospel community is so much more than the sum of its parts. At Sojourn I have discovered friendships that run far deeper than affinity or sentiment and a spirituality the extends beyond a personal relationship.
So why do we do hard things? Why should we pursue new possibilities when it is easier and even happier to stick with the status quo?
Well, for one, we can take chances because Christ is faithful. God always accomplishes his purposes and we can trust him. Which is also precisely why we should pray as Paul does: with confidence and assurance.
Second, the joy of Christian community transcends geographical boundaries. Even from prison Paul is encouraged by his brothers and sisters, and expects they will be encouraged by his correspondence. In the same way, as the church of Christ is scattered across the globe, blessings are multiplied. This is the logic of the gospel: in losing your life you are saved, in humbling yourself you are glorified, and in scattering you are united in fellowship.
In the words of Basil Manly Jr,
"We meet to part, but part to meet."