Believe, Belong, Behave: Worthy, Not Deserving
Pastor Ian urges us to follow Paul in looking to the Philippian church for a fitting example of how we might live lives worthy of the gospel of Christ.
Not only was Philippi the first church planted in Europe, it was the only church that Paul specifically held up as an ‘example’ for other churches to follow (2 Cor. 8:1-5; 9:1-5). And yet, even this church needed encouragement to continually strive toward integrating belief, belonging and behaviour in ways that directed glory to God.
In Philippians 1:28-29, Paul writes, “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that … 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 your salvation, and that from God.”
So how might we imitate this early church and display lives that demonstrate the value of the gospel?
1. We can resist isolation. We know that God calls us to community. But more than just being something, he calls us to do something! What are we to do?
2. We can stand and strive for the gospel. This means that in a world of clogged negative news cycles, we constantly make our stand and compete on behalf of the unchanging good And how are we to do this?
3. We can be unified. Meaning, all that we do, we do all together: we stand firm together, we strive side by side, with one spirit and one mind, we demonstrate the worth of the gospel by living together as a community that invests our energies in a constant effort to exalt Christ in our world. Unity is not a result of our working with each other. It is evidence of God’s working in us.
4. We can reject fear. The word ‘fear’ comes from an old Saxon word, which today would be interpreted, ‘ambush’. It was a word associated with those who lived without a sense of safety. The opposite of fear? Faith. Joy. Trust. Calm.
These are the words that describe a manner of life that is worthy of the gospel. They demonstrate not that we are deserving of salvation, but that we have been made objects of salvation!
This watercolour painting by Lek Ser Chong shows a flock of Canada geese flying united in a ‘V’ formation. In the foreground are two geese who have left the flock in order to care for a sick friend, to nurse him back to health and help him rejoin the flock once he has regained his strength.