Are you engaged in your Christianity? Are you fully-committed and involved in your walk with the King of kings? Are you an active part of a local congregation of holy ones who work in the kingdom and worship the King together? Almost a month ago we considered the correspondence and the cooperation of our engagement in the life of a disciple of the Messiah. Let us continue to explore this question with the apostle Paul...
After exhorting the Philippian Christians to stand “side by side” for the good news of Jesus, Paul writes the following:
“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 the Messiah 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” (Philippians 1:28-30).
To even count the number of times the word of our God tells us, “Do not be afraid”, is quite the undertaking. Paul first tells us in this section of the text to not be intimated by those who stand in opposition to us and our cause in the Messiah. He was writing then to people living in the midst of a pagan world, but our current world is ever becoming more and more like the world of First Century Christianity. Even the Western-religious world of roughly a century ago is ultimately dead and gone today. Living in a pagan world helps to make the distinction(s) between godly living and sinful living even clearer, and it actually increases the faith of the faithful. Ultimately, it should not scare us or cause us to be alarmed...
But this outside aggression is just another reason why we must strive for close unity with our fellow slaves of King Jesus. The presence of our unity under the storm of persecution is a sign that we are heading to the time when God makes all things right,...and to the time when God brings about His final punishment upon the wicked of this world.
Have you ever looked at persecution that way? Paul informs us that it is a sign of our deliverance from sin and death. It is a reminder that we are following in the footsteps of our Master...for as they scornfully attacked and brutally murdered Him, so they also antagonize us for obeying Him.
Paul then goes so far as to say that suffering for being a child of God is something God grants to us...as if it is a kind of gift. When we suffer for being Christians, we are partaking in the suffering of Jesus. Our suffering due to our faithful Christianity is a testimony that we are unified with the Master of the universe (see Romans 8:17; Luke 9:26; and Philippians 3:10). Remember: “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Jesus the Messiah will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12).
Yes, our world is becoming increasingly hostile toward God and all uncompromising Christians, but let us not be ashamed or afraid, for our Savior reigns on high and we are suffering to and for His immense glory. Instead of caving and compromising to the demands of a godless society, may we all give attention to being “engaged in the same conflict” that we see in the life of the apostle to the Gentiles (Philippians 1:30). It is upon this context of unity in the face of persecution from a secular world that Paul writes,
“So if there is any encouragement in the Messiah, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Jesus the Messiah...” (Philippians 2:1-5).
For His infinite worth,