“Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit,[e] striving together as one for the faith of the gospel28 without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God. 29 For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him,30 since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.” Philippians 1.27-30
So much of what Paul writes to this ancient church in Philippi is relevant for us now. Christians all over the globe are starting to ”stand firm in one Spirit” in spite of cultural persecution and worldly rejection. The fact of the matter is that we will always face an opposition within the culture, it happened two thousand years ago and it’s happening still.
Unfortunately, sometimes we often find ourselves fighting against other Christians. Within the United Methodist Church, we have such great theological divides that we are splitting and forming another denomination. In addition, churches are also simply leaving and becoming independent. And to make matters worse, some Bishops are making it difficult for some churches to leave and disaffiliate all together. But if we read and believe Pauls words, we should be of one Spirit and ”striving together” for the faith of the gospel. But sadly, we oppose one another within Christ’s Body. Which makes me ask ”Do we even believe God’s word?” Are we trying to live according to it’s instructions? Are we conducting ourselves in a manner worth of the gospel of Christ Jesus? (v.27)
The truth is that we are called not only ”to believe in Jesus, but also to suffer for him.” We will suffer in this world! Christians in the USA went from a place of prominence and respect to hatred and rejection. The more we become like Christ, we will become different then our culture. Be cautious of those churches who become cultural chameleons. We are to be in the world, Paul says, but not of it.
I don’t mean to be ”Debby-downer” in this post. I intend to bolster our courage as we gain confidence in holding firm for the gospel. If you are being persecuted for your faith then rejoice! If your beliefs are more in line with current cultural trends rather than Christ’s enduring Word, then you might ask yourself if you are on the right side of faith. Imaging have the form of Godliness but without the power? None of us get it right 100% of the time, but a plain and careful reading and belief of Scripture will help us stand firm in the faith.
“O Lord God, you are good. I sit quietly on a cool morning in May seeking your ways and your word. I am feeling such a blessing from this life, walking with your Spirit, in fellowship with the saints. I know that your Spirit is not only close to me but inside me. Living and breathing, allowing me to know the ways in which you would have me to go. Help me Lord always say yes to the Spirit and not my own fleshly desires. Help me find fulfillment in standing firm for you. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen