For some reason, this verse struck me as I read it.
For God is my witness, how deeply I miss all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:8)
Oftentimes, we talk about the “love of Christ” for us so much that we almost become numb to it.
Perhaps that’s why Paul’s word choice struck me. The word he uses for “affection” usually refers to the intestines, which may seem strange to us, but in the Greek culture, the intestines were considered the source of compassion, tenderness, and love, much as people talk about the heart today.
In other words, Christ has a deep emotional connection towards us. When he sees us, that is his heart towards us.
And Paul told the Philippians that he shared that same affection toward them that Christ himself had for them.
The question is, how often do we see our brothers and sisters in Christ with that same affection, compassion, tenderness, and love?
Although there doesn’t seem to be the same level of disunity in the Philippian church as there was in the Corinthian church, there did seem to be some friction among some of the brothers and sisters in Philippi (see 4:2, for example). And so Paul urged them to lay that aside their pride and selfishness, and with the same affection they had received from Christ (2:1), to be one with another, humbly serving each other. Instead of grumbling against and arguing with one another, Paul called them to act as children of God, who shine out in a world where there is so much friction and conflict between people. (2:14-15)
That’s what it means for the people of God to “work out their salvation with fear and trembling.” (2:12)
For Paul, this was not merely an individual working out of one’s salvation (although that is important too). It was God’s people working out the salvation they had received in their love for one another.
How about you? How do you see your brothers and sisters at church? Do you see them with the same affection that Jesus has for them?