If Jesus means anything at all to you, if the fact that Jesus could be the only thing that holds you together in spite of your many differences, if you are comforted by his love, if you share his spirit, and have any capacity to love, then make me happy! Focus your minds on what unites you – love! Don’t think of yourself or what you can gain from this world, don’t seek out the limelight for yourself but instead live in a way that points to the true light. How? By putting others first, meeting their needs. Still struggling? Then align yourself to Jesus – He was God, yet he never lorded it over us, he never used it to push an agenda. Instead he shrunk ego, status, and pride. He accepted human nature and made it work. But more than this – much more – Jesus served! And in the ultimate act of service he followed God’s plan for our redemption even though it led to death – beatings, torture and being nailed to a tree. Is it any wonder that God gave Him His dues, giving Him a name that resounds throughout eternity, a name that every one will acknowledge through bended knee and with shouts of joy. Jesus is king! God’s planning is perfect!
It is easy to listen to me when I am present, but you have also listened in my absence! Friends, you have listened well, but now I need you to listen again – continue to work hard on your faith with respect and awe! Don’t forget to fear God and revere all that He has done, He has a plan and is always working in you to bring it to fruition.
Be above reproach – don’t moan and sulk when life’s unfair. God has made you innocent children in a twisted and bent world. That’s why you stand out like stars in the clear night sky – beacons and pointers to God’s Word. Then I can boast in your lives – that my work was not in vain, that I did not run to lose but to win. Even though I am imprisoned and may yet be martyred I am happy, the sacrifice you make combined with my current predicament result is a sweet fragrance to God – so be happy too, but not just happiness praise God! Lift your hands to God as I lift mine.
I guess you would call the above a paraphrase, but let me be clear it is my version of a Bible passage, it cannot replace or even do justice to the original but I found it a helpful exercise. I have not studied much theology or history in relation to the original passage so it has just been rewritten from my point of view.