We must never fall into the trap of thinking that Christianity is something that missionaries and ministers do, and that the rest of us are observers to what they do.
The apostle Paul makes this fact clear in many of his writings, but perhaps nowhere clearer than in his epistle to the Philippians. In fact, Paul’s letter to that church might be called “the message of Christian involvement”!
Paul begins his letter: “Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, to all God’s holy people in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons” (Philippians 1:1), and although Timothy is not the “coauthor” of the letter, his inclusion sets the tone continued in the mention of all the believers as well as the elders of the congregation. It is important to remember this stress on both members as well as ministers, laity as well as leaders, in reading what Paul continues to say. Throughout the letter we find the apostle makes many statements based on equal involvement in the work of the faith, as we see in the following examples (emphases added) and many others:
In Chapter 1, Paul gives thanks for the church’s (read “everyone’s) “partnership in the gospel“ (Philippians 1:5.), and says that “all of you share in God’s grace with me” (vs. 7). He states that because of his own captivity “most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear” (vs. 14), and that “through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance” (vs. 19). Paul also says “…I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith” (vs. 25), and that they should all be “striving together as one for the faith of the gospel” (vs. 27) since they were going through “the same struggle you saw I had” (vs. 30).
Chapter 2 continues from exactly the same perspective. Paul speaks of the “…common sharing in the Spirit…” (Philippians 2:1), “having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind” (vs. 2). And he shows that this unity is expressed in all of the Philippians having the same goals and rejoicing in the same successes of the work: “… I am glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should be glad and rejoice with me” (vs. 17). In this chapter Paul also speaks of the work of Timothy, and of “… Epaphroditus, my brother, co-worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs” (vs. 26), clearly showing the direct involvement of Epaphroditus and the congregation in Paul’s work.
This ongoing pattern is found throughout the rest of the epistle. Paul mentions other members of the congregation who were deeply involved in his work – members such as certain women who “… have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life” (Philippians 4:3). He tells us that the Philippians shared in his troubles (4:14) and sent him help (4:16), and when Paul closes his letter with his blessing on the Philippians, he includes “all God’s people” – both all of them and all of his own group (4:21).
If you ever doubt the importance of every Christian’s involvement in the ongoing work of God as well as the personal acceptance of the gospel, read Philippians. You will see that Paul includes all of God’s people in this work – including you.