It really doesn’t matter whether it is the Eiffel Tower, a rose garden, or an elephant. Standing back far enough to see the whole object is a very important thing to do. The tower is far more than an amazing amount of iron lattice work or a stair case, isn’t it? While a rose is a beautiful flower to see and to smell, looking at the whole garden helps you to understand the immense variety of color and beauty that there is when you have many rose bushes together in one location. Rubbing the rough and wrinkled skin on the leg of an elephant would give you one impression which would be quite different from holding on to its large and floppy ear. But to understand these impressions, one must stand back far enough to see the entire entity.
It really is no different when it comes to reading one of the epistles in the New Testament! So, this week, as you take a look at the entire letter of Paul to the Philippians, you are going to prepare yourself in a very important way for the rest of the lessons which will focus on one section at a time. For centuries letters have been an extremely personal and meaningful way to communicate. Fascinating biographies have been written because the correspondence between two or more people was saved and through these carefully worded and thoughtfully written communiqués, a life story can be extracted in amazing detail.
As you read the letter that Paul wrote to his dear friends and partners, you will learn a great deal about his life, his attitudes, his concerns, and his joys. If you were going to summarize the letter, what would you say? If you wanted to encourage someone to listen to the whole letter, how would you motivate them to do that? If you were asked to write an article about Paul himself, what personal characteristics and values would you include?
Maybe you can read this letter out loud to someone as well, even if it is to the person in your mirror!