“The Greatest Psychology.” Phil 4:4-7
Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! 5 Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (NASB)
Anxiety or anxiousness can come from a variety of causes… health, family conflict, financial worries, job-related stresses or many others but most of these stresses will have something to do with people or relationships, whether they be our kids, mates, parents, friends, relatives, work-mates, employees, employers, customers…even strangers.
A lot of stress, anxiety, worry, concern, fear and depression is connected to the fear of NOT being able to control or influence the people and relationships around us. This was no different within the early church history, as well. In Ephesians 4 we read about a seemingly serious conflict between two gals, Euodia and Synecthe, both of whom Paul feels very strongly about as co-workers in the faith, which leads Paul to wax eloquent on the way to Spiritually dissolve stress and anxiety. How?
1) Learn the process of what it means, to be bonded together in order to better “think together” (v. 2), even if
2) a third-party mediator (v. 3) is required to help accomplish that seemingly challenging objective.
At Fellowship, we teach and use a highly-effective communicational tool of “feather talk”1 in order to teach the concept of feedback communication based on James’ exhortation in James 1:19-20:
“Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”
Only the person with the feather can speak, and when they are done speaking, before the listener can rebut what the speaker has just said, which no doubt they will do, they must restate back, or feedback, to the original speaker’s satisfaction or understanding,
“What I hear you saying is…”
In fact, I have often maintained that if we truly desire the benefits of becoming the united “whole” in Christ that we are always saying we want, but seldom practice–because we tend to “run away” from conflict and differences, as opposed to resolving them–if instead, all involved parties entered a room, locked the door and engaged in this style of clear, clean, crisp feedback-driven communication, then we would eventually achieve the understanding and resolutions that we so desperately crave.
In addition, a “fair” or “gentle” third party mediator serves as the cast, splint or binding agent, much like a nail or glue binds two separate things together, until the emotional broken bones or ruptured relationship heals and becomes a holy “one” once again.
3) Next, counter-intuitively rejoicing in the Lord at all times enters into the context (v. 4). Why? Simple… KNOW that the Lord is “near”.
(v. 5). He is in the room as the conflict is being resolved. Wouldn’t you be happier and put the crisis or cause of one’s anxiousness in the proper perspective if Christ was truly present with you as you were working through the conflict? After all, if Christ is there, what is there really to worry about to begin with?
4) Fourth and finally, if after all this, there is still a cause for concern, Paul writes to enhance this entire process with the Spiritual: with specific thanksgivings, specifically ask God for what you need or want vs 6 – a Tomato Prayer2 (see a previous post).
And the result to all this hard, intentional, Christ-like labor of learning to think together, with help, as if Christ is in the room, and as we thankfully ask the Divine for what we specifically need to attack and dissolve our anxious concern? The Greatest Psychology… the peace that surpasses understanding (v. 7). Follow this up with repeated investments in what is good, truthful and biblical (in later vv. 8-9), and Paul promises that the God of Peace will be with us! It doesn’t get much better than this… Heaven in the midst of earth; peace in the midst of war; calm in the midst of concern… the Greatest Psychology… Heaven’s Peace… the Peace that Surpasses All Understanding…
Joseph M Cross
1 One of the communicational tools as taught in Joe’s book Sustainable Love. 2 Based on Joe’s teaching on praying precise, specific prayers he calls Tomato Prayers referring to the sharp, preciseness it takes to slice a tomato. Scripture quotations, unless noted otherwise, are taken from the Holy Bible: New International Version‚ NIV‚ Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984, International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. All rights reserved.