Phil 1:27 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…
“Whatever happens” and “for the faith of the gospel” are two phrases in this one verse that caught my attention. I’m convinced “attention” is one of the schoolroom tools the Holy Spirit uses to let me know class is in session.
1. How am I doing in my life with “whatever happens?”
Remember this story from Matthew 21 about the two sons? “What do you think? A man had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ The boy answered, ‘I will not.’ But later he had a change of heart and went.” That plan of rebell, resist and repent is familiar to me. It’s my schedule, my effort and my decision. NOT! It’s a personality of rights issue of faith. After all these years and a lot of tutoring that mindset still competes with the gospel of Christ. So I have to ask…
2. What does “the faith of the gospel of Christ” mean?
Paul could have said “striving together as one for the faith IN the gospel.” That seems easier somehow, like investing in the gospel outside myself. I believe in investing in that gospel but Paul uses a different preposition, “of” that makes it far more personal. The truth is my faith from God came with his core package to get me started, the “faith OF the gospel.” That core of faith is my best hope my answer to question one can be changed.
Luke 22:39 Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. 40 On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” 41 He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” 43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. 45 When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. 46 “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them.
This is our Savior…sweating blood…in anguish…pleading with God to tell him if there’s any other way. This is our Savior completely aware of just how bad it will be to be punished for our sin. This is our Savior who’s repeated concern is still that his disciples “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.”
It’s heartbreaking to read later in Luke 22:61 The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” 62 And he went outside and wept bitterly.
The rooster’s crow confirmed the worst…the Lord’s prediction had come true. They’d all fallen away…and Jesus was going to pay for it.
Repent, pray and remember… Jesus paid for you too.
Luke 5:31 Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
Today is Ash Wednesday; the beginning of the observance many of the faithful call Lent. This is the period leading up to Easter and the resurrection of Jesus. Your church may not “officially” observe Lent but why not think of it as your own forty-days visit with Jesus in whom you have placed your life and your eternity?
We can make these days a personal, purposeful opportunity to examine our own spiritual health. That’s how we honor the Savior’s sacrifice. We can choose to repent of believing we are “good enough” because of the work he has already done in us AND we can choose to celebrate we are still under the “doctor’s” care with the promise of complete healing.