By Sally Lombardo
“Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ…. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, .… Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.” – Philippians 3:17-18, 3:20, 4:1
What does it mean when people live as “enemies of the cross of Christ?” In Paul’s manner of speaking, these are people whose lives are opposed to Christ. They have different priorities that center around self-glory, spiritual pride, and earthly comforts. These temptations are strong in our current culture, as people rush from one form of entertainment to another and seek ways to escape life’s pain and difficulties. But when we come to know Christ, the Spirit shows us how empty such a life can be.
Paul instructs his readers here: remember who you really belong to and where your real citizenship belongs! Christians can observe, follow, and imitate those who live according to God’s example. Our practice of divine worship every Sunday allows us to recreate such patterns in our lives. Our fellowship in life-giving Bible study groups encourages us to love and serve one another. In this season of Lent, we are invited to dedicate ourselves to following God’s people and His ways, even as we become more aware of our own hearts and the ways we have fallen short in life.
Paul reminds us that we are dearly loved. The entire passage of Philippians 3 encourages us to remember that we are loved unconditionally by the Father. We have a heavenly calling in Christ Jesus—a call to live up to the truth. When God displays his holiness in our lives, through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can reflect the difference between stumbling in darkness and walking in light.
In this season of holy reflection, when can you set aside time this week to reflect on your “citizenship in heaven”? What attitudes or actions in your life do not reflect the example of Christ? How can you shift your priorities to spend time in holy spiritual disciplines and stand firm in your faith? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
In our six-week small group Bible study on the book of 1 John, you are invited to live and celebrate true life in Christ. Throughout his first letter, John wrestles with the assurance of salvation. How do we know that we are genuine Christians, and how can we recognize authentic faith in others? The Apostle John taught that you can enjoy full assurance through believing in the incarnate Son of God, walking in the light of obedience, and loving God and his children. Embark on this study with us today!
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