WHAT DID PAUL DO WITH 10:2B ANSWERS (THOSE THE LORD OF THE HARVEST SENT)?
THE HEART OF AN APOSTOLIC FATHER (62 AD)
(Note: I chose this picture of Paul because it represents all the pictures of Paul I could find. Serious, severe, scary? There was not one that showed him smiling! I think they are all missing the boat. We need a picture that reveals his joy. If you can find one, send it to me.)
Paul’s heart for the Philippians is revealed. In Paul’s letter to the Philippian house churches, written more than 10 years after the events of Acts 16, we see into his heart. What we find there are people. Just as a father (or mother) carries his children in his heart, so Paul carried these people in his heart. And, they were a source of great joy for him. What we see is that ministry for Paul was not merely a task to be accomplished. It was deep, warm, heart-felt relationships.
While he doesn’t use the word “father” in this letter, he does use family language. And, you can see the deep emotional bonds.
Every time you cross my mind, I break out in exclamations of thanks to God. Each exclamation is a trigger to prayer. I find myself praying for you with a glad heart… Phil. 1:3-4 (The Message)
I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy… Phil 1:3-4 (NIV)
…I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith… Phil 1:25
…then make my joy complete by being likeminded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Phil 2:2.
So then, welcome him (Epaphroditus), in the Lord with great joy… Phil 2:29
Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown…” Phil. 4:1
In understanding Paul’s relationship with these people in Philippi (who were 10:2b answers), I would like you to focus on the fact that they occupied a place in his heart. They were not a task, they were not part of a program. They resided in the deepest part of Paul.
What is joy?
Watch this 4 minute video
From the folks at Life Model Works, we learn that joy is “the” foundational brain skill. Ideally, it is developed in our families early in life. And, just as it is foundational for our healthy physical families, it is also foundational for healthy spiritual families.
Consider this great description of joy from Transforming Fellowship (Chapter Three) by Chris Coursey. Remember to “Read until the Coach stops you. Ask Him why He stopped you there. Journal your conversation. Share that with your Leader Team.”
“Think about a time someone was glad to be with you. Their face lit up. Their body language, voice tone and words all convey, “Hey, I am SO glad you are here!” You feel seen and cherished. This jubilant response made you feel special. Your heart rate increases. Your pupils dilate. Your face lights up. You feel loved.
Relational joy grows into an emotional state as it is shared with people who express warm delight to be together. Joy is contagious and spreads when it is shared and expressed with at least one other person. A wonderful blend of nonverbal signals allow joy to grow with each glance. Joy increases with every shared smile of the eyes. Joy creates a most remarkable chemical cocktail that simply feels euphoric. Joy excites us and motivates us to interact and stay connected.
Technically, this nonverbal dance of warm voice tones, bright eye smiles and attuned body signals is described as right-hemisphere-to-right-hemisphere communication that amplifies our most desired positive emotional state. Relational joy is best conveyed face-to-face but voice tone comes in a close second.
We develop a strong bond with people who light up to see us. (Brain) Skill 1 (ie, Sharing joy) makes life, church, marriage, business and everything else better. Joy gives lovers the fuel to endure, friends the strength to persevere and families the ability to recover. Ideally we return to joy from every unpleasant sate the brain knows.
How Skill 1 (Joy) is normally acquired, practiced and propagated
We learn Skill 1 from people who are glad to be with us, specifically mom, dad, grandparents, aunts, uncles and friendly faces in our churches and communities. With consistency this glad-to-be-with-you response becomes internalized as our normal state…
…It is no accident the blessing of all blessings, the priestly blessing God gave Aaron the priest to recite over Israel says,
“The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make His face to shine on you and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:24-26)
Here we see God’s face and countenance as the source of joy and blessing over His people. Jesus would have used the priestly blessing throughout His ministry, especially in Luke 24:51 when He ascends to heaven while lifting up His hands and blessing His flock. Joy is reciprocal, and it is after this parting gift that the disciples shift into worship then return to Jerusalem with great joy.
In the Bible, to have God’s face is to have life, joy and blessing while the absence of God’s face is equated with death, abandonment and rejection. It is no accident that the face is where joy starts and stops. When needed, babies who have mommy’s face and gaze feel euphoric joy while the absence of mommy’s face and gaze feels much like certain death.
…Joy is the relational/emotional/mental/spiritual transaction that both reflects our life and is a reflection of God’s love. Fellowship/koinonia within our chesed* communities is where Share Joy changes lives and restores relationships.
While Skill 1 is first learned in our natural families, a quick glance at the world tells us this is not always the case. We learn Skill 1 within the pool of resources our chesed communities offer. Here we spend much time sharing glad-to-be-together moments.
…People want to be where Skill 1 (Share joy) is prevalent and any group of people who value and use Skill 1 (Share joy) can change the world… The Good News of the Gospel is that we have a God whose face lights up to see us and He beckons us to draw near.”
*Chesed is a Hebrew word that can be translated lovingkindness or steadfast love or covenant love. “Chesed is the kind of strong attachment to others that no matter what they do or how many times they do it we still want to be with them…Chesed binds us together, and God is described as chesed 253 times in the Old Testament. In the New Testament the word “agape” is used to translate chesed. 1 Corinthaians 13 is a good description of the sticky love known as chesed.” (Coursey, p. 11)
Things to think about. Imagine Paul visiting the Philippian house churches. If you could watch their faces, what would you see? And, if Paul imparted this kind of joy to those churches, what would their church gathering look like? And, if this kind of joy (see John 15:11) characterized the early house churches, is it any wonder that they conquered the Roman Empire one household at a time?
Do I “have God’s face”? Do I sense on a regular basis that He is glad to be with me? That I am a source of joy and delight to Him?
What does my face and my tone of voice communicate to the people around me? My spouse, my children, my church, my neighbors? Do they sense that I am truly glad to be with them? Do they “have my face”?