Philippians 2:1-2, NASB
1) Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion,
2) make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.
-The way in which the Philippians respond to Paul's letter has the ability to "make his joy complete." By conducting themselves in a manner worthy" (verse 1:27) and "in no way being alarmed by your opponents" (verse 1:28)in being willing to "suffer for Christ's sake" (verse 1:29) they will succeed in being that encouragement, a consolation of love, share in the fellowship of the Spirit, and show affection and compassion.
-unity is vital to the life of the church and the furtherance of the Gospel
When we headed down that path in the woods last summer we had a goal in mind. Each one of us knew that at the other end we would be at the ocean. This path led down over 200 steps and places where you had to duck under brush and hold onto a cable down a steep embankment. We marveled that this was the path used by the Coast Guard for many years to reach boats docked in a protected harbor that would go out on rescue missions. Many lives were saved because men were willing to make the journey to the end of that trail. I chickened out when it came to the part with the cable to hold onto, but my men carried on. As you can see by the photo this was an area of very dense underbrush. Imagine our great surprise when a mountain lion sprang across the trail just feet from my location after the guys rejoined me on the top of the cliff.
When the going got tough I quit, much like I imagine many do when suffering comes. We give up on the goal and plop ourselves down in a comfy spot completely unaware of any lurking danger. Paul is reminding of us of our goal, our purpose and it is a united purpose. We are all in this together, our successes and/or failures have an impact on everyone else.
Imagine for a moment that the verses today were spoken to you by your pastor. What happens after you walk out of the doors on Sunday? What kind of report will he get back about your behavior? Will it be an encouragement to him? Will it make his joy complete? These are not questions I often ask myself. I've never given any thought to making my pastor's joy complete, but can you just for a moment imagine with me what a congregation would look like if we did? If we served with the same mind, maintained the same love, were united in spirit, and intent on one purpose. If we all proclaimed Christ without fear? Now there is a church I would love to be a part of! It starts with me and it starts with you, dear one. The only thing that will unite us like that is our one purpose. We lose that unity when we lose our focus on this one purpose. A church that is focused on what color to paint walls or making sure they are popular with the masses is a church destined to division. We will never agree on all the particulars for we are a varied bunch of individuals. But Paul is calling us to lay aside these differences and work towards our united purpose- the furtherance of the Gospel. You may go about it differently than I do, but as long as Christ is proclaimed we should rejoice like Paul did in his day. (verse 1:18)
Grace and Peace,
Philippians 1:28-30, NASB
(for the previous verses which set the tone here please see my earlier post Philippians- Making Progress)
28) in no way alarmed by your opponents--which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God.
29) For to you it has been granted for Christ's sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake,
30) experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me.
-we should not be alarmed by those who attack us for our faith
-they are destined to die for rejecting God's Son, while we have life everlasting...breaks my heart for them.
-suffering is just as much a part of our life as believing in Jesus Christ- and it is all for His sake.
-we too will be conflicted- to live or die- which is better? (that is the conflict I think this is referring to- see previous post An Instrument of Good for more on the preceding verses)
"Do not be alarmed." Paul was not alarmed when he was arrested and thrown into prison. He was not alarmed as his life hung in the balance while he awaited the outcome of his trial. He understood the fate of his opponents and it only served to spur him on to further share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Through the Book of Acts we learn that some of these prison guards and even some Roman officials became Christians while Paul was imprisoned. Paul is encouraging in us this same mindset, "Do not be alarmed." These people, these opponents of Paul were not the victors, though you would have been hard pressed to convince them otherwise. These people who ridiculed and provided false witness against Paul were destined to die in their sins unless they turned to Christ and believed on His name.
Times they are a changing...do you feel that way? I sure do. Things that were taboo when I was a kid are now acceptable to practice. So many things that I, as a "good girl," would never have dreamed of doing are now common, even within the church. Old stigma's are gone, we have blurred the line of right and wrong. We have compromised with the culture of our day. So what do we do? Should we change with the times? Should we stand up and be heard, a voice that will most certainly be ridiculed and hated? What do we do? The answer is clear, “What then, only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in this I rejoice.” (verse 18) We continue to share the gospel of Jesus Christ.
These people who ridicule us, call us all kinds of names, label us as fools and bigots, these people are destined to die in their sins unless they turn to Christ and believe on His name. We on the other hand are assured of salvation, assured of eternal life, assured of a place reserved for us with Jesus in heaven, assured of rewards that we cannot even begin to fathom in this world. So why do we tremble with fear? Have we not been told that, "For to you it has been granted for Christ's sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake?" (verse 29) Why are we more concerned with offending them than offending Christ, our Lord and Savior? If our suffering is for Christ's sake why are we willing to compromise the Truth? Why do we sit silently by when more and more pulpits are proclaiming that Jesus is just one way among many, that the Bible is outdated and needs to be rewritten so as to be "inclusive."
Did you catch that line about suffering being part and parcel with our belief in Christ? Are we willing to do that for Christ's sake? Are we willing to risk offending someone in order to not compromise the Truth? Is the life of that person "destined to destruction" important enough to us to take that chance?
Redbud blooming in Texas
As we finish this first chapter of Philippians Paul has laid out the answer to these questions for us. Our citizenship is not of this world, our loyalty is not to our country. As believers in Jesus Christ our citizenship is in heaven, our loyalty is to Christ. This past election in particular has alarmed a lot of people around me- it should not be so according to Paul. Let us keep in mind that the Holy Spirit is with us for our "progress and joy in the faith," (verse 25) and that we should "conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ."(verse 27) "Let us stand firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel."(verse 27)
Let me be clear; I do not think there is a dividing line of christian/non-christian that corresponds to republican/democrat or liberal/conservative or whatever political label one chooses to use. I do however think that there are some things which are most definitely right and wrong- a line that our government and society are attempting to blur. As I said in my last post, God's Word is very clear about a number of the issues we face today, and just because I may not like where they lead does not give me the right to change what God Himself has said in order to make myself and others more comfortable.
My goal when I started this study was to look at what was written in Scripture and then simply see what it says...no agenda, no twisting to fit a preconceived notion... just a simple, honest look at what God has to say to us through His Word. And today His Word is telling me not to be alarmed, but to stand firm and love others by sharing the Gospel with them.
Grace and Peace,
I am a woman with a Mary heart and these are my musings as I read and study God's Word
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