Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,
To all God’s holy people in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.
And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may 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.
Advent is the time of preparation, not just for the celebration of Christmas Day, but for the anticipated coming of King Jesus. Part of the gospel/good news is that Jesus is going to return, that he’s coming again. That will be a time of necessary judgment to bring the salvation promised. And God is preparing a people in Jesus to actually be ready for that day. A tall order indeed, and one beyond ourselves, but something God takes on and promises to bring to completion for the day of King Jesus’ return.
Being filled with the fruit of righteousness to the glory and praise of God is an intrical part of the peace that God is bringing into the world in and through King Jesus. It is certainly about the change that is occuring in character which is not just about individuals, but concerns community. The passage from Philippians quoted above is about community. The Greek words translated “you” are plural. The change God is working in and among us is a change in terms of community, how we get along with each other. The heart of that change is in the church, Jesus’ body. We learn to work through and live past our differences, our unity being in Jesus and the gospel. And we grow up together. A change which should impact our relationships at home, at work, in our neighborhood, and in the world.
The change is certainly interactive and ongoing, not something that is automatic, or simply experienced at one point. It is incremental, over time, perhaps with some big spurts here and there, but by and large gradual, and hardly noticed by us, except in the ongoing growth pains that accompany it.
This change brings the peace that is at the heart of God’s kingdom come in King Jesus. And that peace is already present in King Jesus in the church and through the gospel, bringing that change which is someday to fill the earth. The change that is a large part of God’s work in Jesus now.