My heart is touched by so many things going on in our world today. There are people starving and homeless, civil wars raging in many places, persecution for Christians, governments collapsing, children in need of decent medical care and decent education, elder abuse and animals being harmed. So many hurts in this world and I wonder sometimes how are we as Christians living in safe environments to respond? How can we be sure that we are living as we ought to be living? I found comfort and encouragement in the words of Paul written to the believers in Philippi, take a look.
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, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel 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. For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have. Philippians 1:27-30, (New International Version or NIV).
The enemy of God has not changed in all the years since the Apostle Paul wrote these words. The early church was persecuted and martyred just as some are under persecution today. Imagine what a comfort these words must have been to the believers who were without a complete Holy Bible to study. Put yourself in their place for a moment and imagine how they survived and the sacrifice they made so that our generation can draw comfort from Paul’s letter to them.
Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Just think of how these Christians lived from day-to-day knowing that tomorrow may be their last. Paul is telling them to hang in there and live a life of love and charity and grace and mercy. I just love that, don’t you? Oh but it gets even better.
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, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. Hey friends, (I think Paul would say in our language today) don’t worry about me, I might be in prison but I am standing with you in this persecution also. Paul tells them that the Holy Spirit will help them to stand against those who oppose them. I am pretty sure that he knew where his own physical strength to withstand beatings, curses, dungeons and snake bite came from…from the Holy Spirit, the Comforter Jesus promised would come and minister to us. Think about that for a moment. Have you ever been backed into a corner where you were harmed because of your faith in Jesus Christ? Have you lost your job or your home or your family because you were the only one standing for Jesus Christ? There are many Christians today that are in such a situation and the words of Paul ring as true today for them as they did for the first century readers of this letter.
Fear is something that is hard not to feel when we are faced with terrible situations, but Paul says not to be frightened in any way…IN ANY WAY! Wow! I must confess to you that there have been times when I am facing something difficult and I was afraid for a little while, but I kept praying and studying God’s word. Eventually a peace that can’t be explained would come over me and the more peaceful I felt the more comforted I felt and I knew that everything was going to be alright. I felt it in my bones, in my inner being, in my soul and I knew that peace was not of this world but from the Holy Spirit, from God! Do you know what I am talking about here? Have you experienced this same peace in your life at times? If not, then you need to pray and ask God to bring peace into your situation and get rid of the dark and troublesome fear.
What the wicked dread will overtake them; what the righteous desire will be granted. Proverbs 10:24,” (NIV).
We as Christians have nothing to fear because our God will take care of us. In fact Paul says that our not having fear and not showing fear to those who oppose us is a sign to them that they are going to be destroyed but we will be saved! Wow! That is some heavy stuff!!!! That doesn’t mean that our life won’t have some problems to deal with. We might be put into prison because of our faith as many brothers and sisters in Christ are in prison now all around the world. We might have a season of heartache but eventually the desire of our heart will be granted but the wicked person has no such hope. What the wicked dread, what they fear most is going to happen to them! But for the righteous person, we need to remember the words of Paul, even if we are in prison for our faith or homeless or jobless because of our faith we still must conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel! Even in times of national crisis we need to conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of Christ. During times of hatred being poured out on us we need to respond in a manner worthy of the Gospel. If we are being stoned like Stephan in Acts chapter seven we need to conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel.
Why? Because suffering comes to all Christians and we need to accept that fact. Because we know that what man does to our earthly bodies is nothing compared to what God can do to us and since we are Christians we will be with God in a short while. How do I know that suffering will come to all Christians, after all you may think you have it made because you live in America, Canada or Australia but wait! Did you read all of the verses discussed today?
For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have. Philippians 1:29b-30, (NIV).
There it is! We will have times of suffering because we are Christians just as Paul had struggles, just as the first century Christians had struggles just as Jesus struggled on this earth. We will suffer because we love Jesus but we are not to fear this suffering. We are to hold on to that promise to that hope and do not fear anyone or anything of this world. We can be certain that when the time comes for us to suffer we will not be alone, we have a comforter in the Holy Spirit and we have an advocate in Jesus Christ! They will do their jobs as we do the suffering. How cool is that!
Until next time…Katherine