I have been challenged today to think about the Bible in a missional perspective. For the past six years, I have been attempting to understand the Bible in this fashion. It has taken me almost six years to get to a point where I can visibly see how God the Father, wanting a relationship with His creation, sent His Son to the earth to reconcile creation to the Father. In John 20:21, Jesus states, “As the Father has sent me, and so I send you…” This sparked the disciples who had followed Jesus for a period of about three years to go out and do what Jesus has taught them. In other words, the disciples are to the Church what Jesus was to the disciples. Jesus also used a man named Paul, who would change the world and write a large portion of the New Testament. As we read these three verses of Philippians, I hope you will see the missional aspect of Paul’s message here. With that, we will begin.
Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again. 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.”
Paul has come to grips with his current state of being. He will remain in the flesh and continue to serve Christ.
He so desperately wants to see the people of Philippi. He knows that they will be filled with joy to see him again.
Paul exhorts them to be worthy of the gospel.
No matter if Paul is able to be with them or not, he wants to know that they have remained strong in their faith.
Unity of the body of Christ is really important to Paul.
We talked about this yesterday, but I feel it can be said again. Paul is content to remain on earth and serve God here. His “new found” understanding does not upset him. Though I am sure Paul would rather be in heaven with Christ – in glory – Paul understands the importance of being here and serving God. Life here on earth – compared to eternity with Christ – is short. On average, a human will live 77.2 years here on earth. What we do with that time is important. For Paul, the life expectancy wasn’t that long – perhaps about 50. His time was shorter than the average human lives today. As we think about Paul’s life, think about all he did in the amount of time he did it. No matter what you might think about Paul, you have to at least admit that he accomplished a lot of work in a short amount of time he had left on this earth before the Lord took him home. What would be another ten years to Paul? I am guessing – not much.
When I read letters from friends who are on the mission field, I am excited to read their updates. When they come home and spend time with friends and family, I am really excited. Paul was in prison for a period of time. Could you imagine the kind of homecoming procession the people would have had if Paul, after being in prison for so long – had received if he had shown up unannounced? It would have been a wild party to say the least.
Being worthy of the Gospel is an interesting phrase. To be worthy – in the Greek sense – means to be balanced. It is to be weighed and measured well. It is like taking a balance scale and the weight on one side is equal to the weight on the other. Paul is essentially saying then, “Only let your manner of life be equally balanced and weighed. I wonder if we are balanced and weighed in our manner of life in relationship to the gospel of Jesus Christ. I can only speak for myself and say that it isn’t always where it should be. Being balanced is essential for living out the Christian life well. I can only hope that I can reach a point in my life where I am worthy of the gospel of Jesus Christ – at least to some degree.
Finally, there is this aspect of unity we oftentimes overlook in the Bible. Paul is all about being one unit – one body – one incarnation of the Gospel. When we are gathered as one, we are stronger. When we are one, we build one another up. When we are one, there really is nothing we cannot accomplish for the gospel of Jesus. Paul loves unity. Maybe that is a great place for the Church to be challenged in our culture.
We – as the body of Christ – have this one mission that comes from Jesus, which came from the Father who is in heaven. It is a serious task in which we must all agree upon and strive to complete. It isn’t easy but we have one another to help us through it. We are called to live a life worthy of the Gospel – to be balanced and weighed. Paul’s challenges to you and me are the same challenges he faced as an apostle of our Lord Jesus Christ. In one of his letters, Paul said that he finished his fight well. I can only hope that we attain the same satisfaction as well through Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit.