(from December 2012)
Not too long ago, Anna and I decided to get caught up on the Ice Age series, so we watched numbers 2 and 3 (we’d both seen #1 several times), so that we could go to the theater to see number 4. If you haven’t seen them, I recommend checking them out - #1 is really good, #2 is ok, and #3 is somewhere between the other two. Unfortunately, we still haven’t seen #4 yet. One of these days…
Nevertheless, I love the story of the three main characters, Sid the sloth, Manny the mammoth, and Diego the saber-toothed tiger, and their journey together as friends, and as they are quick to call themselves, a family. They are a beautiful mix of powerful (Manny), quick (Diego), and clumsy (Sid). Even though they are wildly different in looks, skills, backgrounds, and species, they are a family because of how they love and serve one another. Manny and Diego are seemingly constantly saving Sid from some perilous situation which he has gotten himself into, and Sid is constantly showing them forgiveness as they tease him.
As we watched Ice Age 2, I couldn’t help but think how similar was the Philippian Church to whom the apostle Paul wrote the letter of Philippians. Their first three converts (and “church members”) were also wildly different in their backgrounds: a well-to-do religious lady consumed with morality but not grace, a demon-possessed slave girl from whom the demon was expelled, and a middle-class, blue-collar prison guard who was just looking to earn a living (see Acts 16). But they were brought together as a church family by Jesus. Paul writes this letter to the Philippians about 5 years after his visit there and the establishing of the Philippian Church; which is a young, struggling, poor, rag-tag church and he says to them, don’t let your joy depend on how bad your situation is. Or how good. He tells them that their joy isn’t to be caught up in and dependent on things or on circumstances, but on a Person. The person of Jesus, who Paul writes in chapter 2 humbles himself to become man, knowing what it is to be human and to suffer for their sake as a human, while still being God. “This is what your joy is to be dependent on,” Paul is basically saying to them, “the great love of God for you, that he would come to earth, as a man, to save sinners, like you." He is saying to them in this letter, "You are to have dependent joy in the Person and Work of Jesus Christ.”
C.S. Lewis puts it well when he says, “Don’t let your joy depend on something you can lose.”
I invite you to join us this fall semester, as we look at the letter to the Philippians in our series, “Dependent Joy”. We will be meeting in the Business Building (COBA) room 1124 on Wednesday nights at 8:30. As the Ice Age family did, and as the three unlikely first members of the Philippian Church family did, invite a friend to join you.