Lord, in the demands and delights of today, keep my eyes on You and my feet on the ground!
Read PHILIPPIANS 1:27-30
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
As Christians, we have dual citizenship. The Philippians were “in Christ” and “at Philippi” (1). We are also “in Christ” and “at…”–a heavenly and an earthly address.
As a teacher of English to speakers of other languages, part of my job is to help prepare people for the citizenship test. The students have come from different parts of the world, mainly through marriage or work, and wish to settle in the United States. The test signals to those seeking a U.S. passport that understanding history, values and language are necessary for genuine participation and integration into society.
It is citizenship that Paul has in mind when he writes, “Conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel” (27). The Greek word politeuesthai used here refers to the rights and duties of citizenship, thus meaning “live as worthy citizens.” Conscious of the tremendous pride that this Roman colony of Philippi had in its civic status, Paul explains how they are primarily citizens together of Christ’s colony. Their faith is not just a matter of securing the Jesus passport. It involves living out their new identity and loyalty to the “Gospel of Christ” (27) as citizens of both heavenly and earthly kingdoms. Paul calls for unity and teamwork in the face of opposition. The word translated “frightened” (28) conjures up the idea of a startled horse bolting from its position in the battlefield and possibly causing a stampede and confusion. Striving together, his readers will stand firm against external pressures and internal division.
Facing outright persecution or subtle cynicism, it is easy to feel intimidated by the social, political or economic mega forces of our day. We can find ourselves undermined or ridiculed, ignored or tormented. Focus and unity are vital. As he waits to hear whether he will live or die, Paul speaks with conviction about the privilege of suffering on behalf of Christ. Like him, in a lost, Gospel-starved world, we may identify with Jesus and demonstrate his saving heart.
What does Paul say is required of us as we live in the rough and tumble of life? What resource does he refer to (27)? How does your Christian community support you as you stand, strive and suffer for the Gospel? What part do you play?
Lord, I thank You for my church, a community of believers, who strive to support each other in love.
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