So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. (Philippians 2:1-2 ESVConcord is a beautiful and life changing experience. But concord is more than getting people to think and act in harmony. Concord is an act of God through the send of His Son – Jesus to set us free from selfish ambition to complete His joy.

Have you ever been to a concert or participated in an orchestra? What about conduct one? It is incredibly hard work which requires hours of both individual practice as well as group practice to get people (young or old) to work or “play” in harmony with one another. This week I had the opportunity to participate in the LCMS Office of International Mission Asia regional workgroup meeting. This meeting is an annual event (though due to COVID it had been postponed for 4 years!) to bring us all together, in the same room and work together, to build relationships and corporation with one another. While we did sing together, our focus wasn’t exactly “musical” in nature. Building trust and learning to appreciate one another’s gifts and passions – this was our focus. It was hard work to wrap our hearts and minds around so many different needs, so many different gifts, so many different passions from across Asia in just a few short days. But without that hard work of communicating and sharing and learn more about each other, working together is impossible – let alone “making music” together that would communicate to others what God has done for us in Christ who has made us to be of “one mind and one accord.”

And this is the key part. If we only focus on our effort at making our work together harmonious, we miss the truth of what God has done for us in Jesus. We will easily feel hurt or out of sorts when we still see how easily we get out of “rhythm” or hit a note “off key.” Ultimately harmony, concord, being of “one mind” is not something we produce at all but what God produces in us through His own Son, Jesus. He did this not by giving us more accurate instructions or by shouting louder, but by laying down His life for you and me and all people.

This is why Paul has confidence to write to the church in Philippi and exhort them to fulfill his joy even as his joy comes in the midst of his imprisonment. From this unique vantage point, God gave Paul a special glimpse into what brings true and life changing harmony in both his own life and ministry and the life of the church. Jesus is this concord, and He is the one that in humility completes our joy. Jesus did not tap on the podium or simply wave His orchestral baton, but instead got down into the “pit” and played the whole piece from beginning to end. And in the end He received the harshest “review” we could ever imagine – death on a cross – a public humiliation meant to silence not only Him but any and all who would ever “listen” to His sound. Yet, to the amazement of all, even you and me, He was not silenced but raised to the place above all places that we would have confidence that our sins and sinning was paid for. No more endless attempts of self-improvement, only the joy of being free in Him to live to His glory.

In many ways, Paul’s experience brought him to a point where he could see how God was at work in and through the humble, and humbling circumstances to bring him and the whole church to appreciate what God had already accomplished for us and all people in the sending of His Son – Jesus Christ. In and through the humble and humbling circumstances of our lives, we are learning and sharing this joy, filling it up in the lives of those we love so that Jesus is praised.

As you celebrate this extra-long weekend – Chuseok and National Foundation Day – with friends, family and neighbors God bless and fill you with His joy.

Pastor Carl