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. – Philippians 1:27-28 ESV
I was watching a PRAISE show and it had Pastors Greg Laurie and Andy Stanley. Both were in different locations and one was on the couch with the interviewers, the other was in Atlanta on a video conference call. Both were asked what they are preaching on in this time of forced SHELTER IN PLACE orders. Both discussed PHILIPPIANS- for Paul was living a life, worse than, but similar to, what many are experiencing in this TIME OF THE PANDEMICS, which we find ourselves. Paul was SHELTERING IN PLACE- he was in prison, when he wrote this letter to the church in Philippi. Yet, the book of Philippians is the epistle of joy and encouragement in the midst of adverse circumstances. Paul lovingly urges them to focus their actions and thoughts on the pursuit and the POWER OF CHRIST.
Leader, the book of Philippians gives us a clear understanding of how to get through forced confinement, removal of liberties and being held hostage by forces who believe that our God and our Faith is illegitimate, silly and wrong. From this great letter we get the verses: “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” (2:5); “I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus” (3:8); and “I can do all things through Christ which strengthen me” (4:13). Philippians focuses on Paul’s ‘TRIFECTA OF NEED’ for a TRUE FOLLOWER of the CHRIST, JESUS. (1); Paul’s appeal to have the mind of Christ (2); Paul’s appeal to have the knowledge of Christ (3); Paul’s appeal to have the peace of Christ. In chapter 1, Paul sees Christ as his life: “For to me to live is Christ”. (1:21). Philippi was the first church Paul FATHERED, he loved these people, he shepherded these people. For years, they have participated in the apostle’s ministry, and he prays for their continued growth in the real knowledge of Christ. It is this mindset that Paul wrote the verse above. Paul was saying you can’t control what happens TO YOU, but you can control what happens IN YOU- because CHRIST is IN YOU!
Conduit, are you like others who DO NOT KNOW, or DESIRE to know Christ? Do you desire to be like Paul, and thus more CHRIST LIKE? Paul encourages the Philippians to remain steadfast in the face of opposition and coming persecution. Is Christ the source of your POWER over your CIRCUMSTANCES? Do you know, “I can do all things through Christ which strengthen me”? WE must PUT ON the mind of Christ: Paul exhorts the Philippians to have a spirit, an attitude of humility, the greatest example of which is the incarnation and crucifixion of Christ. Paul can, and does brag about HIS WORK for Christ, see 2 Corinthians 11:16-33. However, he says; compared to the goal of KNOWING CHRIST, those pursuits are as nothing. True righteousness is received through faith, not by mechanical obedience to any law. Lastly, Paul urges the Philippians to have peace with the brethren by living a lifestyle of unity, prayerful dependence, and holiness. Paul describes the secrets of having the peace of God as well as PEACE WITH GOD. Paul explains to us, that the power of Christ enables him to LIVE ABOVE his circumstances. That is our calling, to LIVE FOR CHRIST, to live LIKE CHRIST and to LIVE so that others desire to have the SAME HOPE, by knowing the SAME JESUS, no matter the circumstances. Today whether SHELTER IN PLACE or heading to work-live your life in a manner that is WORTHY of the GOSPEL OF CHRIST! When we do that, whether Christ comes for us today, or tomorrow- HE MAY SEE YOU and say to you; “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:21, 23)