I think sometimes we buy into the commercialism of Christianity too easily. If it has a “Christian” message or looks cool for that matter, it seems most of us are quick to buy it or give free advertising through word of mouth before actually understanding or reading up on some of the stuff we endorse. WWJD? Bracelets are not bad. They can be a way to strike up conversations with individuals who has never seen one before. When I think about Paul though, he only had his ministry and his integrity. He didn’t use tracts or shirts with Christian messages. He sent letters that spoke of encouragement, trials, love, and difficulties. It seems as though the message of the Gospel was a lot more pure in Paul’s day then the message we give others in our culture. Paul let his life display the message of Christ. Maybe we could put away the Christian tee shirts and paraphernalia for while and work on living in a manner worthy of the Gospel. Paul thought it was a good idea and I agree. Though I don’t always get it right – I rarely do – that doesn’t mean I have a right to give up. I have a lot of work to do. Paul’s message challenges me in that way. In the last three verses of the first chapter of Philippians, Paul concludes some thoughts about what he has previously written.
“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.”
We aren’t to fear opposition.
Destruction and Salvation come from God alone.
We are called to believe in Christ and also suffer for His sake.
Paul reminds the people that he has been an example to them in this suffering – both in person and in prison.
I have said this before, but I find it interesting how frightened we can be when we experience any form of resistance to the Gospel. I am almost blown away of how quickly we can run from it. We have the good news to share with others and we seem to be more concerned about how people will receive it than their salvation. We are more concerned about their response to our words rather than their eternal state separated from God. Though it might be scary and uncomfortable, we must be willing to remain bold for His name. We must walk in boldness and joy. This is what we are called to as believers.
God is judge of destruction and salvation. It isn’t ours. We cannot judge someone in a manner that only God can judge. We can perceive and see the fruit of people, but that doesn’t mean we are able to cast eternal judgment on an individual. That also means that we should remain a solid in our faith and walk with Christ. We should never become lax in our walk with Christ. We are called to love, to pray, to hope, and to trust in God’s never ending love for His Creation.
Being a believer in Christ doesn’t just believe in Christ. As Christians, we will suffer – some situations will be easier to go through while others will be more difficult. If we walk with Christ and walk according to His ways, people will not be happy campers. Since we are to walk against the worldly grain, people will notice who we are and respond in a manner that the world usually responds to believers. We must strive to continue in our pursuit of living for Christ. We must never let down our guard. It will be difficult. Paul shows us in example that he knows what it is like to suffer for Christ. With his knowledge, Paul encourages us to remain sold out for Christ. The suffering will only last for a period of time and then it will end. For some it will be longer than some, but it will end. So – my encouragement (and Paul’s) – is to continue to grow in our faith and walk according to His Word to the best of our abilities. God will see our efforts and our heart and reward us according to how we live this life here on earth.
We have finished now the first chapter of Philippians in ten days. I have learned a lot so far about my responsibility as a believer in Christ. The next post will summarize the first chapter of Philippians and finial thoughts on the chapter will be given. If you are just joining these posts, I encourage you to go back to day one and read through what we have gone through together. It is never fun being out of the loop. Thank you in advance for being a part of these readings and responses. For me, I am greatly encouraged by the Word of God and His daily love and support. Without Him, I would not be the person I am today. For that, I am so thankful. God bless.