By Brooke Holt
“Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.” Philippians 1:27-30
Many Christians lament the state of the world these days. Fewer and fewer people attend church each Sunday. We see rising antagonism towards the Christian faith. What is wrong is called right, and what is right is called wrong. It can be downright confusing and deeply discouraging for those who seek to live for Christ. It seems like society is in decline, and that may be true. However, life in this world has never been easy.
Paul wrote this letter to the Philippians around 60 AD. At that time, the Romans ruled throughout Israel, and they rarely showed compassion towards the disciples of Jesus Christ. Paul’s imprisonment bears testimony to this truth. Paul wrote to acknowledge the hardship of his people and to demonstrate a faithful response to living under persecution and tribulation.
Where the world might say ‘rise and demand to be heard, seen, and understood’, Paul admonishes his readers to live in a way “worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Phil 1:27). How could oppressed people embrace this mentality of Paul?
Paul wrote Christians must stand firm on the gospel and must stand firm on what is true and right. And they were to do this together – not alone. Timothy encouraged Paul by visiting him in prison. People like Timothy and Silas supported Paul in his ministry. They shared the burden of proclaiming the gospel by working together, supporting one another, and encouraging each other. Paul wants the Philippians to live this way. They are to work “side by side” in unity, meaning they must guard themselves from the dissension that so easily slips into church communities.
In this place of unity, they must also remember that suffering is part of this world. Jesus, himself. left the glory and comfort of heaven to live and die as one of us; Paul endured suffering for the gospel; every disciple will suffer, but our suffering is only temporary. We experience an earthly suffering, but something far greater awaits us – the glory of heaven where we will find no more suffering but, rather, a full sharing in God’s glory.
When Christians keep their eyes focused on what is to come, it provides perspective for how to overcome the trials of this life. This perspective provides the key to standing firm in Christ today. Until you reach your eternal home glory, hold fast to the gospel truth. Preach that truth to yourself and to others; seek to live in unity with other Christians; do not let conflict in this world surprise you. The same Spirit that raised Jesus from the grave now dwells in you, and he will empower you to stand firm, to live in unity, and to overcome the trials of this life (see Romans 8:11).
Are you standing firm in Christ today through the power of his Holy Spirit? He stands ready to equip you for the trials of this life and to strengthen you to pursue unity within the body of Christ. Seek his help today! We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Follow the ancient way of the Psalms and find the life God has for you. A model for vibrant worship, the Psalms provide practical wisdom to traverse the circuitous path of life with trust and hope. Pilgrim’s Path: A Study of the Psalms traces our spiritual walk with God—from discovery and delight, through doubt and disappointment, into joyful confidence. Whether used for individual or group study, Pilgrim’s Path is for everyone who seeks to know and love God more and find life in him.
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