Text: Philippians 1:12-26
Brothers and sisters, I want you to know that the things that have happened to me have actually advanced the gospel. The whole Praetorian Guard and everyone else knows that I’m in prison for Christ. Most of the brothers and sisters have had more confidence through the Lord to speak the word boldly and bravely because of my jail time. Some certainly preach Christ with jealous and competitive motives, but others preach with good motives. They are motivated by love, because they know that I’m put here to give a defense of the gospel; the others preach Christ because of their selfish ambition. They are insincere, hoping to cause me more pain while I’m in prison.
What do I think about this? Just this: since Christ is proclaimed in every possible way, whether from dishonest or true motives, I’m glad and I’ll continue to be glad. I’m glad because I know that this will result in my release through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ. It is my expectation and hope that I won’t be put to shame in anything. Rather, I hope with daring courage that Christ’s greatness will be seen in my body, now as always, whether I live or die. Because for me, living serves Christ and dying is even better. If I continue to live in this world, I get results from my work. But I don’t know what I prefer. I’m torn between the two because I want to leave this life and be with Christ, which is far better. However, it’s more important for me to stay in this world for your sake. I’m sure of this: I will stay alive and remain with all of you to help your progress and the joy of your faith, and to increase your pride in Christ Jesus through my presence when I visit you again.
Paul writes these words to the Philippian church from a jail cell. He stirred up all kinds of trouble for the sake of the Gospel. He endured shipwrecks, beatings, and imprisonments in order to share the good news of Jesus Christ. I don’t know about you, but I have never had to endure anything even remotely like that. At worst, I have been mocked for believing in the way that I do. As American Christians, we sometimes tend to get a persecution complex and think that the world is out to get us. While there is some hostility towards Christians out there, in our country, it is not persecution.
When we walk out of our homes in the morning, we don’t have to fear being beaten for sharing the Gospel. We don’t have to be afraid of being tossed in jail for being Christian. We don’t have to worry that by opening a Bible we can be executed. What do we have to fear? Nothing stops Paul from proclaiming the Word of God and inviting others to experience the radical grace of Jesus Christ. Even with all the obstacles in his way, he proclaimed, “I hope with daring courage that Christ’s greatness will be seen in my body, now as always, whether I live or die.” Paul is an example of what it means to go all out for the sake of the Gospel. He understands that no matter what his circumstances, God can use those and use him to share the good news. Paul is ready and willing to give everything and endure everything in order to share Jesus Christ with others.
How often do we let fear prevent us from sharing our faith? How often do we withhold an invitation to experience the radical grace of Jesus Christ because we feel uncomfortable or we are afraid of being rejected? How often do we make excuses for keeping the good news to ourselves? We often struggle just to give God a few hours of our week, let alone the whole of our lives. Are we ready and willing to give everything and endure everything in order to share Jesus Christ with others?
When we decide to follow Christ, we are called outside of ourselves and outside of what we find comfortable. We are called to proclaim the good news that Jesus Christ has come into the world to save it from its sin and self-destruction and to offer a new way to live. We are called to share in Christ’s work regardless of life circumstances and obstacles. We are called to live with hope and with the daring courage to believe that God wants to work through us and can work through us, no matter where we find ourselves in life.
What obstacles are you facing in your life that are preventing you from sharing the good news?
Who is God asking you to share the good news with?
God, you call me to follow your Son, Jesus Christ. You call me up and out into the world to share and to show the good news. Give me the daring courage to trust and follow you, no matter where I end up in life. May Christ’s greatness be seen through me whether I am sick or well, whether I am working or resting, whether I am living or dying. I ask this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.