“Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and stay on with all of you for your advancement and joy of the faith.”
Here is a significant idea that is often missed in the life of the church and even of believers. We have been impressed so strongly with the call to evangelize (an essential idea) that we often forget that we are also called to disciple (another essential idea). How often we spend all our efforts on evangelism and then forget that evangelism is only the first step of a life-long process. It is interesting, while evangelism should include a relationship, it does not require a relationship to be present (the Holy Spirit is awakening the person to faith and belief anyway!). But for discipleship to happen, relationships are required. I wonder if people don’t engage in discipleship because they are afraid of committing the time or transparency that a genuine relationship requires. It is easy to stay busy and by doing so, keep people at arm’s distance. It is entirely a different thing to engage with people in meaningful ways over a long period of time…yet that is to what we are called.
And for Paul, as he contemplates God’s design for him, he recognizes that the growth of the people of Philippi in their faith is far more important than his personal comfort and satisfaction of leaving life in this fallen world and being present with Christ eternally. Thus, convinced of their need for him, he is convinced that God’s design is that he stay on to serve as a “discipler” for their good. Were we only to take a similar mindset toward one another. Were our churches, even, to emphasize discipleship as we ought and were our church members to value being discipled as we all ought, how different a culture we would live in today! Yet, culture is transient and thus can be changed if we begin at home and change how we approach the idea of “being disciples” and discipling others. May Paul’s mindset here be our own…and all to the glory of Christ.