Text: Philippians 1:27-30
Most important, live together in a manner worthy of Christ’s gospel. Do this, whether I come and see you or I’m absent and hear about you. Do this so that you stand firm, united in one spirit and mind as you struggle together to remain faithful to the gospel. That way, you won’t be afraid of anything your enemies do. Your faithfulness and courage are a sign of their coming destruction and your salvation, which is from God. God has generously granted you the privilege, not only of believing in Christ but also of suffering for Christ’s sake. You are having the same struggle that you saw me face and now hear that I’m still facing.
Live together in a manner worthy of Christ’s gospel. Paul emphasizes these words as the most important ones that he has to say. He exhorts the Philippians to live united in spirit and mind. He reminds them that true faithfulness is difficult and that they need to stick together.
A semi-common thing that I hear from people who believe in Jesus but don’t go to church is this: “I read my Bible and I pray. I don’t really see why I need to go to church if I’m doing those things.” Certainly doing those things are helpful in cultivating faith, but they, in and of themselves, do not make us disciples of Christ. In fact, Christianity, at its very core, is all about relationships: not just between us and God, but between one another. One of the primary metaphors we find in Scripture for understanding what it is to be a follower of Jesus is to be a part of the Body of Christ. A body is fundamentally connected and all of the parts need each other (See 1 Corinthians 12:12-27).
Scripture reminds us over and over again that we need the gathered community of faith. We need people to walk with us and we need to walk with others as we wrestle with life, with truth, with God. Jesus himself was always calling people out of themselves to be a part of his gathered community that did life together as they journeyed with Jesus to the cross, to the grave, and ultimately to eternal life. Jesus never called people to be alone or to live out their faith by themselves (which is, in fact, contrary to faith).
In our country, we tend to have a very individualistic mindset when it comes to many things, including faith. “It’s just about me and Jesus,” we might say. To have such an understanding of what it means to be a disciple is to miss what being a Christian is all about. Paul reminds us that we, as Christians, need each other in order to stand firm and united in faith. He reminds us that faithfulness to Christ is most fully expressed in community. When we live and struggle together in faith, we are living in a manner worthy of the gospel.
Am I trying to live my faith by myself? In what ways?
What can I do to better engage in the community of faith?
God, help me to live in a manner worthy of the gospel of your Son, Jesus Christ. Help me remember that when you call me, you call me to be a part of the community, the Body of Christ. May I stand united in faith with my brothers and sisters. Amen.