"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." John 1:14

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Adding On

I have watched with interest the expansion of our local theater here in Montrose, Colorado. As the stockpile of props and properties has grown, the organization had considered relocation but opted for adding on. Sometimes good things can be improved.

So it was with Paul's message to the Philippians. He had patiently built a case for love, joy, and unity among them (rooted in their relationship with God through Jesus Christ). He had just given them the take-away: Always rejoice, live gently, trade anxiety for a trusting, grateful relationship with God, and enjoy the resulting peace. Now he gives them some additional advice:

"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things." Philippians 4:8

Long before Albert Ellis coined the terminology "cognitive restructuring," the Word of God was teaching that the thoughts we nurture manifest themselves in our emotions, behaviors, and lives. Here Paul is offering some very specific guidance for peace and unity with God and one another. Today we might say, "look at the bright side." Actually Paul's commands (not to be confused with mere suggestions) go deeper than a sunny outlook because they are rooted in reality, not wishful thinking.

What is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy is, quite simply: Jesus. There are times his glory breaks through the cracks in our jars of clay. When this happens, we can take joy in the evidence of his reality, and of his presence and work in us and in one another. In this way, we believe, not in what we are, but in all we can become in the transforming power of Christ's Spirit of holiness.