A word for today: The struggle

 The struggle

Just one thing: As citizens of heaven, live your life worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or am absent, I will hear about you that you are standing firm in one spirit, in one accord, contending together for the faith of the gospel, not being frightened in any way by your opponents. This is a sign of destruction for them, but of your salvation—and this is from God. For it has been granted to you on Christ’s behalf not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, since you are engaged in the same struggle that you saw I had and now hear that I have.
-Philippians 1:27-30

  • Live as a citizen of heaven, a life worthy of the gospel of Christ.  We might be proud of our country, our ancestry; but being a citizen of heaven is what should govern us and be our core identity, on earth as in heaven.
  • Live your life worthy: suitably: get along.  The problem addressed here in the Philippian letter is disunity: believer’s fighting.  We can disagree and still be in unity, because of Christ.  Is this a lost art among Christians today?  The answer to disunity is not to argue until the other side caves or to force educate the one who disagrees with you, but more Christ, more gospel.
  • Standing firm in one spirit, in one accord, contending together for the faith: unity, not uniformity.
  • Do not be frightened in any way by your opponents: Don’t get spooked.  There is courage that God gives us in the face of opposition.  The word picture here is of something starling a timid animal.  If you want to bring some humor to the picture, it is like a mouse walking by startling a much larger creature.
  • This is a sign of destruction for them, but of your salvation- and this is from God: Our opposers perceive our faithfulness to Christ as foolishness or self-destructive, but it is actually the fruit of our having been and being saved.
  • For it has been granted to you on Christ’s behalf not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him: If you stand with and for Christ, you will suffer.  If you have not suffered for him, it could be doubted that you are his.  And to avoid suffering for him might mean that your Christianity is only superficial and you really are not walking with him.
  • Since you are engaged in the same struggle that you saw I had and now hear that I have: Paul was in jail for Christ and would be martyred.  “The struggle” is the conflict that we are engaged in, in Christ.  Whether you visualize it as a boxing match, a sword fight, or wrestling; we are all in the arena so to speak, struggling against the opposition.  This is the normal Christian life and if this is completely foreign to you we have to ask if you are genuinely a Christian.  Another misunderstanding of the struggle is not only running from or avoiding it, but taking on victim status and refusing to fight or being mad at God that life is not easy.

The struggle or conflict against opposition, enemies human and spiritual is the normal Christian life.  And our brother or sister is never our enemy.  We have a common enemy and we have one savior and Lord, but we can still disagree or not understand each other and live in unity.

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