“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.” – Philippians 2:1-2
It’s called the happiest book in the Bible. Philippians packs its few pages with expressions of joy and exhortations to rejoice. Paul wrote this letter in response to a gift the church in Philippi had sent him in prison. It’s no surprise to see joy abound in a thank you note. Yet, it’s fascinating that even after receiving their support, Paul asks for one more thing. It’s a bold move to make a demand in the middle of a thank you note.
Make my joy complete by…having the same love.
Hearing these words I cannot help but think of the pleas made by parents and grandparents towards their fighting children. Often, I’ve witnessed family members offer grace to each other or extend an armistice because death has drawn near to a parent. In these moments we cannot help but face our interconnectedness.
We see that joy, like love, is inherently and highly relational.
What robs us of joy more efficiently than the erosion of trust and the disappointment of discord?
I wonder about these last time truces. Will they lead to a lasting change or are they a façade that fades as time takes us farther from the funeral? Do such truces dismiss real wounds or do they help us hurdle over the trifles we’ve been hung up on?
I’ve known enough families to know that there are multiple answers to these and other questions.
And I’ve seen enough to know that the one who truly gets to enjoy the full measure of joy is not the one making the plea for peace but those who live on, who have emptied themselves of ego and worked with the other to find what Paul calls, “a same love.”
“Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.” ― Henri J.M. Nouwen