Sunday, June 12, 2011
Digging in: God's purpose
Have you ever had a delicious, flavourful dish, maybe something you have eaten for the first time... you are not quite sure what's in it but you really enjoyed it? You eat it very slowly, enjoying every morsel and then you ask the person who prepared it how they prepared it. "Wow, I didn't realize there was nutmeg in there...I was wondering what that flavour was... yes, I could tell you used garlic, I love garlic... "
I am having a similar experience with the book of Philippians. I am pulling the verses apart bit by bit, chewing on every word, studying each passage in context, exploring word meanings, understanding about the audience Paul was speaking to... the flavours of the book are coming alive.
In week four of the study I have joined at Do Not Depart we looked at Philippians 1:27-30. Here we find several commands culminating in God's purpose in our suffering.
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 one spirit, contending as one man 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 on 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.
Conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ-
Paul uses the term politeuesthe which means to live as a citizen. Philippi was a Roman colony so the Phillipians would understand this. Though they did not live in Rome, they, as citizens of Rome enjoyed the benefits of being Roman, dressed like Romans, spoke like Romans and followed Roman laws. Likewise, we are to be so in regards to heaven. We must live as if we are in heaven, representing heaven. Sometimes, living in this world our thoughts and actions can get influenced by the society we live in, we must constantly examine our conduct and measure it against the standard of the Gospel.
Stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man-
We are to be unified as believers. contending or striving together. The word in the Greek is sunathlountes from two words:
sun- with, joined close, in close identification with
athleo- engage, compete, in an (athletic) contest. It is from the word which means to wrestle.
We are not only to be united when things are going well but we have to wrestle together.. fight together.. work hard together with other believers. We have to be on the same team. One of the areas of my life that I have opportunity to apply this is in my marriage. Marriage is what God has set up in this life to be a picture of Christ's relationship to the church. While my husband and I may not always see eye to eye, we have a responsibility to God, each other and other believers to be united... to strive together to bring glory to God. No matter what, we are on the same team! The miracle of bringing two different people together as one will be a testimony to those around us... it will defeat the enemy who is seeking to destroy families... to tear apart marriages, to make our society more and more unstable. We have victory over the the the devil when we fight together!
Lastly, this passage tells us that we are called to suffer for Christ. SUFFER?? It actually says charizomai- we have been given grace (God extending himself to us) not only to believe in Christ but to suffer for Christ. GOD'S PURPOSE? To bring honour and glory to him... If I change my perspective and see suffering as a blessing I can then more freely trust God to bring me through the suffering. How awesome is that?!
This week we are on to chapter two. I can't wait to dig in! What have you been feasting on? What tasty morsels have you unwrapped this week? Let me encourage you to "Taste and see that the LORD is good!" (Psalm 34:8)