Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Labels matter, who are you anyway?

 Pastor Ruel has been preaching through the book of Philippians (I always type "Philippines", seems appropriate) and so I have been carefully reading and re-reading this wonderful letter. This morning I read
"Therefore, my sisters, beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand firm in the Lord, my beloved. " Paul to the Christians at Philippi (4:1)
 In one sentence the apostle Paul describes them in 4 different ways. In this situation he is not only telling them how he feels about them; he is also telling them how Jesus feels about them, about you.  Look at how Paul addresses the Philippians:

  • "my sisters" - the original uses generic "my brothers" so I took some liberty and changed it to "sisters". If you are applying this personally, then it is completely appropriate. To Paul and Jesus we are family, brothers and sisters. I have 2 sisters and I love them dearly.. In Christ I have many sisters. Hey Sis..
  • "beloved"- You and I are God's beloved. Some of us have suffered a lot of rejection and hurt. God will never reject you. He loves you. You are his beloved. Try looking in the mirror today and say out loud "I am loved. I am Jesus' beloved."
  • "longed for" - At Thanksgiving and Christmas my homing instinct kicks in. I'm like a bird flying back to its nesting grounds. I want to be with my family. I long to be together with them watching football, eating turkey, sharing love. God longs for us that way. He wants to be with us, to share a meal, to talk about life. When I was back to the US last time I spent time with my younger sister Margaret. She is 1.5 years younger than me and growing up we were very close. It was so great to stay with Margaret and her husband Steve. I can imagine living next door to them and visiting them every day. I miss her and I long for that closeness again. Jesus longs to be with me that way. A longing is stronger than a want, its an expression of a heart need. You are "longed for".
  • "my joy and crown" - In English we would say "my pride and joy". You make me feel happy and proud/honored. Sometimes we say "I'm honored to call you "friend". Jesus is honored to have me as his brother and child. As I typed that last sentence, I found it hard to believe. I need to say it out loud: "Jesus is honored to have me as his brother". I want to react "you have got to be kidding! No way! If you knew what I'm really like, you wouldn't say..." but then I remember - he knows exactly who I am; and he stills says "you are my pride and joy. You make me feel proud and happy." I don't understand how that is possible, but I will not call God a liar. All I can do is believe it and accept it.
  • "my beloved" - he ends his sentence by whispering to our hearts "you are my beloved. I love you."  Thank you Jesus.
Among all these wonderful labels I don't want to lose the command he is giving - "Stand firm in the Lord". Well, he just made it a lot easier for me. Today I'll stand firm, knowing I am loved, I am longed for, I am the pride and joy of Jesus and God the Father. I am family. Knowing who I am makes it easier to live the life God intends for me. Thank you Lord. I love you too!