Passage: Philippians 1:12-18
Speaker: Steve Hands
Series: Partnering Together For The Gospel
Partnering Through Prison
**NOTE: Due to a technical error, the sermon was not recorded.
Summer is wedding season; this Saturday I will be at my third wedding in a row! As I counsel couples for marriage, I always challenge them to move beyond a consumerist to a covenantal view of marriage. A consumerist view evaluates a person based on what they do for me; if the cost of the relationship outweighs its benefits then we move on to other relationships. A covenantal view of relationships evaluates a relationship based on a covenant that we share, regardless of the costs or benefits. Similarly the church must move beyond a consumerist to a covenantal view of community. We are brought together for a purpose, knit together by God’s covenant, with attendant joyful benefits and costly sacrifices. Last Sunday we began a new series through Philippians to be challenged to a covenantal partnership in the gospel. What does that look like? Philippians 1:12–18 shows how such covenantal relationships can endure great challenge so that we can partner even through prison to preach Christ with joy.
First we partner through prison (Phil 1:12–13). Prison is often fraught with shame; when someone is incarcerated, people often assume guilt and disassociate themselves. Yet Paul’s goal is not comfort; indeed, his joy is not robbed because even prison “has really served to advance the gospel” (1:12) since “my imprisonment is for Christ” (1:13). When “to live is Christ” then all events, even challenging ones, are opportunities to know and share the presence of Christ. We can know Christ’s presence even in prison and hardship.
We not only know the presence of Christ in prison, but we partner through prison to preach Christ (Phil 1:14–17). Success can make it hard to distinguish friends from opportunists; hardship reveals your genuine friends. In prison Paul saw some people with selfish ambition maximizing his hardship to advance themselves (1:15 17). Yet others, his true friends and partners in the gospel, were emboldened to preach Christ out of love — for Christ as well as for him (1:15).
Preaching Christ, though, is not a burden even from prison; we partner through prison to preach Christ with joy (1:18). Paul’s joy is not in the comfort of his circumstances; Paul’s joy is in the proclamation of Jesus Christ. Even through those who preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, he still rejoices. Similarly nothing can rob our joy when our joy is rooted in making great the name of Jesus Christ!
So what? Our church is connected not by similarity of background or common experience; our church is knit together because of Jesus Christ. Whether in good times or bad times, may the bonds of our relationship be sewn together so that we might even partner through prison to preach Christ with joy.