I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. 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. 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. For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
- Philippians 1:3-11
In this passage, Paul writes to his friends in the Roman city of Philippi from his jail cell in Rome. Here we see two phrases that are helpful for us:
- completion at the day of Jesus Christ
- so be pure and blameless (preparation) for the day of Christ
Before looking at these phrases let’s consider what Paul means by “the day of Christ Jesus”. The clear teaching of Scripture is that a man named Jesus, who is called the Christ, came from heaven to earth and dwelt among us. He lived and taught the will of God perfectly, died a death on a cross, rose from the dead and ascended back to heaven. The Scriptures also clearly teach that this same Jesus will return to earth a second time to fully rule over all the earth. This “second coming” is called “the Day of Christ Jesus.”
It’s interesting that this day is called “the Day”. By implication it means this Day will be one of reckoning or judgment. Jesus will come back on a Day to call the world to accountability. But it’s also interesting that this “reckoning” and “second coming” is called “Day”. Jesus is called the Light of the World. Heaven is described as having no need for the Sun because the glory of God will be it’s light. The word “day” conjures up images of newness, starting over, light, health, freshness, and so on. That is exactly what this Day will bring… a New Heaven and a New Earth.
Now, let’s consider what Paul says about this “Day of Christ Jesus.” There are two things he says are coming on that Day.
“Completion at the day of Christ Jesus”
Paul says that “he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” By implication, we are incomplete until that Day. In this life, we may have a foretaste of what’s to come, but not until that Day will we be fully complete. While we wait for that day, we wait with faith and hope. This leads to the second thing Paul says.
“Preparation for the day of Christ Jesus”
Paul says that he prays that their love will abound “more and more” until that Day. The preparation for that Day is rooted in the ever increasing expression of our love for God. When the work first began, our love for God was small, seeing only a small picture of our sin and need for Him. But as we move closer to the completion of His work in our lives, our love for Him deepens and widens as we see our true and utter need of Him (see diagram).
As we wait with anticipation for that great Day, we prepare now by increasing our love for Christ more and more. There are three indications by which we can see our love being prepared and completed for the Day of Christ Jesus.
All of us know what it’s like to be in a relationship that brings laughter, hope, healing, friendship, security, confidence and peace. But sadly, we also know what it’s like to be in a relationship with someone that is hurtful, damaging, abusive, betraying, frustrating and disappointing. One Day, our desire to be fully known and fully loved will be completed in our intimate relationship with God. Until that Day we prepare for that relationship by trusting God now! I cannot look to other people to fully satisfy my relational longings. If I do, they will eventually disappoint me and I will ultimately crush them under the weight of my needy expectations. Our full completion at the Day of Christ Jesus means that today I prepare for that Day by relating to people in a free and faithful manner, finding all of my needs met in Christ and allowing all of their needs to be met in Christ. By increasing my relational love for Jesus, I will relate to people here on earth in a much more free and helpful way.
One of the things I love most about college students is their desire to make a difference in the world. Through philanthropy work like Dance Blue and St Jude’s Hospital, to humanitarian work like clean water and hunger eradication, to men and women joining the armed forces bringing peace and justice to the world. We see these “peace” efforts everywhere. However, just in the last few weeks a friend of mine died of cancer, I received an urgent plea to help hungry kids in Eastern KY, ISIS bombed another hotel, and the list goes on and on! Our efforts at “peace” here and now are a mere shadow of the complete healing the world will experience on the Day of Christ Jesus where peace will reign on the earth!
I love a good party, good food, good drink and laughter as much as anyone. We all know that feeling of joy when you share a victory, recount a funny moment, witness the marriage of good friends, see a newborn baby, and celebrate the special moments in life. But we’re just as familiar with the pain of losing a parent to death or divorce, the confusion of a medical diagnosis, the hurt of relational betrayal, and the sadness of watching the nightly news. Many times our joys on this earth give way to intense sadness and pain. However, the sorrows of this life pale in comparison to the joy and glory that awaits us on the Day of Christ Jesus. On that Day our joy will be made complete!!
These words of Paul are helpful as we live, work, relate, play, suffer, struggle, and hope during our time here on earth. At times we feel as if we’re walking in a dark night, but just like every night in the history of the earth, it will pass and give way to the Day!! On that Day when Christ completes His work in our lives we will be fully satisfied!