The Hi-C and college interns came together to study the book of Philippians. There were a lot of small and large group discussions and ideas shared. Together, we studied 4 chapters, one each day, and had intergenerational discussion regarding our interpretations of St. Paul’s letters. After a full day of discussions, each intern wrote a personal reflection on the ideas shared and learned. Here are some of their reflections:
Book of Philippians Reflections
Faith of Christ
One of the things that stood out to me during this bible study was the “Faith in Christ” verse “Faith of Christ”. Having faith in Christ has always been a struggle with me, I always say this, but I’ve always struggled with my own faith. When I think of faith in Christ, it means that you “have” to believe in Christ and everything that comes with it, which I don’t fully believe in yet. Switching it to faith of Christ makes this easier for me. This tells me that I need to have Christ like faith. I think that this is something I will be able to do and have.
What spoke to me was more about friends and the future. Since my Hi-C days are over, I haven’t really been thinking about the community of St Tim’s as a whole or Hi-C that much. But, this was a reminder that Hi-C is more than just an age group, it’s a group of friends. Some feel more comfortable than others because of how many friends they have in the group. For Hi-C or college to be as tight knit as we want, we have to view everyone as a friend and not just someone who goes to our church. Maybe going deeper first is the key to getting there. Being just church people means that there’s this wall of manners, image, and politeness. We want to have good relationships with church people but I think that we are scared to show anything ugly. We find it hard to really connect with people because we are worried about what people think or how they see us not in the same way we might at school, but more because our church is so connected. Fitting in isn’t just something we worry about for us, but it’s also to do with our parents and other people’s parents. I think that the fear of showing people your less shiny side, stops us from being as connected as we should be. I hope that we can start to open up about things and have more trust in each other. Even if there are bad things, we have to trust that others won’t judge. We have to open up first, empty ourselves, and hope that others do the same.
Trust God, Don’t Worry
Paul is telling us to be wary of the earthly things that we find in our lives. To be steered clear from our worldly possessions and to see glory in Jesus alone. The sinners are those who focus on the things that we see in our lives. This was written around 2000 years ago, yet we can still see this pattern today. What does that say for human nature? I think it shows that it is hard to change. Paul also talks about emptying yourself so that Christ may live in him and that this should happen to everybody, but is it easy to simply let go of your own desires? I don’t think so. Actually now that I think about it, it may be easy to do so. We can forget about our own desires for a short while but because we are sinful beings, we will return to our own selfish ways. While I write this, a praise song played and the song is called “I’ll Give Thanks” by Housefires. The chorus repeats: “God’s not worried, so why do I worry?” That is such a beautiful sentiment. Why do we worry when God doesn’t worry? Believe in God and he will make everything clear; he will give us insight. Why do we worry about losing ourselves when there is nothing to worry about? It’s hard for us to let go of the world and be one with Christ because we can see, touch, smell the world but we cannot see, smell or touch God. With God at our side, we can do anything and I see what Paul means in this chapter. Through Christ, we may do anything.
Struggling With Faith
I think part of what may be holding me back from strengthening my faith is the lack of struggle in my life. I’ve lived a very easy and comfortable life and for that I am grateful for, however I think I am beginning to understand what it meant in Paul’s letter that it was a privilege to suffer for Christ. Paul’s confidence could not have come out of nowhere, he must have struggled a lot to have had such strong confidence in his faith. It is my belief that only through love and suffering can we strengthen our faith. While I have experienced nothing but love in our community, I have not experienced much struggle.
Or perhaps I have struggled in ways which I don’t really recognize. I’ve noticed that I have a very laid back attitude towards my life and tend to push things aside and ignore it if it is bothering me. Even so, because I am unwilling/unable to recognize any struggles in my life thus far apart from the love I have experienced I find it hard to strengthen my faith. Even if I have struggled and am not seeing it, I feel like my struggles are minuscule compared to what many others in my community as well as around the world are going through. But at the same time I am not really wishing for struggle to happen to me. I am really comfortable in my life and therefore kinda fearful of having real struggle in my life. How will I come out differently? Will I have changed for the better or for the worse? I know that I have a loving support network in my community but how much can that really help someone going through trying times?
When that big struggle does eventually come I pray that I can look at the bigger picture and not fall into despair and hopelessness as I tend to do sometimes, but rather be like Paul and see the glass half full. It amazed me how optimistic Paul could be even with his grim circumstances.
Along with today’s bible study, I think this whole week of the “bible retreat” was such an awakening moment for me. Along with learning new things, and understanding what God and our relationship is, I felt that the passages we read and studied really helped me get through this week. Before this week had started, I had some problems with one of my friends, in that I was very hurt and angry at them. To the point where I wanted this person to feel the same pain that I received from them. I was so consumed with only my thoughts and emotions, that even if my mind was telling me to stop and think about what this person was feeling, my heart was unable to even accept to think like that. At this moment, I think the second or third day of our bible study, it was mentioned that we should “kill the me” in ourselves, as this can hinder relationships around us. When Rev. Simon mentioned the whole, “When two friends fight, and they may be blinded by their selfish emotions to realize what the other person is feeling.” It really hit me, and I realized I was being such a selfish friend to this person I hold so dear. So I would like to thank Rev. Simon, because I think without that message, it would have been more difficult to figure things out/act rationally with this person.
“To live is Christ, to die is gain”
Paul’s message in his time of what should be a time of sadness while he is in jail, directly speaks to me in ways that I never thought it could. I find it so interesting how time and time again, passages can speak to all of us because there is so much depth and deeper meanings behind these texts. That it can speak to numerous people for different reasons. However, I think that specifically for me, the underlying thing that really resonates with me is the verse 22 “To live is Christ, to die is gain”. Looking at Paul’s situation, he has been in jail for a long time, and yet he lives life with such joy and happiness. I really tried to understand how this could be the case, and while thinking of this, I kept in mind verse 22. My understanding of it was that life’s purpose is to find your happiness through work, the legacy you leave behind.
For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain. (Philippians 1:21)
I feel like Paul’s imprisonment is sort of an analogy of how I feel about my own life, I feel so confined and lonely. Sometimes I feel like life is so hard, I fear the future and what my life will be like in the end. How has my legacy affected those around me, and what kind of person people will remember me for. Paul’s optimism in finding things to look forward to is what captivated me for most of this passage. Life during that time for him looked bleak, how can I feel so optimistic in the life that I feel confines me, to living in my own world? I think the reason why I am trying to discern this message in such depth, is because of my envy of Paul’s attitude. I just feel like I have nothing to give sometimes. I look at Paul and what he has accomplished, and I see someone who is a protagonist with a call to action, a man with a plan. As I have gotten older, I have become increasingly worried about my life, sometimes I feel like my life was meant to be lived as just a side character or a background character in a movie. I don’t feel like I have anything special to give to this world, like my life has no purpose, and I have nothing to look forward to in the end. My wish is to find my purpose in life, to be more than some average person who was remembered for being ‘funny’. I want to find what makes me live for other people, and I want to say that when I pass on, I gain the love and respect of people around me. My only hope is to look forward day-by-day to the future and what the next day will bring for me.
A Strong Faith
Paul made me think of the benefits of optimism and faith. Paul demonstrated unwavering faith in Christ which may have put him in predicaments, but came out victorious with his optimistic perspective in life. He explains that living is suffering but suffering doesn’t necessarily mean a negative thing. By suffering you are learning, growing, and enduring obstacles that refine yourself. Many times when I face problems, I always want to take the easy way out. I know that escaping my problems isn’t always the best options. Sometimes a quick way out may be the best option but avoiding problems all the time results in many missed opportunities for me to grow as a person. Learning about Paul’s philosophy in life helped show me that suffering is just part of life and that having strong faith in your own power. Christ can not only boost your own confidence but also encourage those around us.
– The St. Timothy Summer Interns