- 1. Paul calls what he’s about to refer to “a struggle.” The Greek work is agona which means “contest, struggle, fight.” If you read the part in the double “//…\\” you will notice that it looks like the “struggle” he’s is referring to is a prayer. This fits one of Paul’s notions of prayer, as he will say later in 4.12, that Epaphras was always “struggling on your behalf in his prayers.” So, prayer for others will sometimes/oftentimes seem like a wrestling match on their behalf.
- 2. In this second item I simply want to point to the prayer itself and encourage you to engage God with these words for others, especially for congregations you know that have experienced deep turmoil.
- 3. The final piece, where I really want to spend the rest of this musing, is that last statement which I have marked thus. Paul rejoiced to see their “good order,” maybe their orderly life together, and orderly corporate worship. But Paul also rejoiced in their “firmness” of “faith in Christ.” For all their theological and philosophical flips and flops, ups and downs that Paul will correct in this letter, he still thinks of them as firm in their faith in Christ. In fact in v. 6-7 he will encourage them to further that firmness of faith in Christ, “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” This firmness in faith is a growing-roots-downward-bearing-fruit-upward kind of faith, one that breaks out in eucharistia – thanksgiving. So Paul rejoiced that these Christians stood firm in their faith in Christ.
- 1. Jesus is asking us; in our storm, “Where is your faith?” I admit, I confessed to him that it is just as little and shaky and rattled and thin as the disciples’. And so I sought him to grant me to develop a firmness in my faith in him. That my faith would run deep roots downward in him, and blossom with bountiful fruit upward from him. And that I would be abounding in thanksgiving – eucharistia.
- 2. And yet, just like the disciples, the quality and intensity of my faith is lacking. But it’s not “my” faith, it’s the one in whom I run to and holler to, “Master, Jesus, I am perishing!” Every time I read the sea-storm episodes, it brings me back to a prayer I memorized years ago; a prayer that is very much a run-to-Jesus kind of “Master, Master, we are perishing!” prayer. It goes like this: