MODEL GOSPEL CITIZENS
Lord, help me shore up my conduct to conform to Your expectations.
Read PHILIPPIANS 1:27–30
Life Worthy of the Gospel
27 Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel 28 without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God. 29 For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, 30 since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer” (Psa. 19:14).
Having elaborated on his circumstances for the benefit of his Philippian friends, Paul now gives them ethical instructions. Usually, Paul states the central case on which everything depends early on in a letter. Here, he does so in verse 27: “conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” The Greek term “to conduct yourselves” has a political tone, referring to one’s life as a citizen. Philippi was a Roman colony and its citizens were proud of their rights and privileges. Hinting at this, Paul urges the Philippian believers to live like proper bearers of the Gospel.
In verses 27b and 28a, Paul spells out that such a life includes steadfastness, unity, and courage. To “stand firm in the one Spirit” speaks of a steadfastness or unwavering faithfulness brought about by the Spirit. The imagery in the phrase “contending as one man” can refer to gladiators fighting side by side in life-or-death situations in the arena, or to soldiers fighting wars in closed ranks. The instruction to the Philippian church not to resist division and embrace a united front is a matter of life or death for Paul. If we grasp this, there will be less division, discord, and dire consequences in some of our churches.
Living a life worthy of the Gospel accompanies suffering (29). This is because God’s society (of which Christians are part) and the world’s societies (of which Christians are also part) often have conflicting values and attitudes. For Paul, both faith in Christ and suffering for Christ are privileges granted to the Christian by God. Just as Paul has suffered and still suffers for Christ and the Gospel, so will the Philippians. The same can be said of genuine Christians in any generation.
Christians are both citizens of heaven and citizens of a geopolitical nation. How can you be a model Gospel representative in this world, even (or especially) when it creates tension?
Lord, I accept the resistance from the world as a normal consequence of following in Your footsteps.
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