In Philippians 1:27-30 the Apostle Paul moves from encouraging the Philippian church about his situation to challenging them to live in the fullness of Christ in their own situations. He gives his first command of the letter in verse 27, “Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ”. While this statement is challenging, Paul does not simply leave them or us with this command, he begins to define it for us. He defines conduct worthy of the gospel with the command to “stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.” This is a foundation for the teaching on unity that will come next, but Paul seems to be declaring that conduct worthy of the gospel is not an individual manner but a united one. We don’t simply need each other we were created to be in relationship with each other. God desires to take the many and make them one and yielding to that desire displays the worthiness and power of the gospel.
He does not leave us with this one command but adds to it, he tells the Philippian church to not be “in any way terrifed by your adversaries”. What does fear have to do with worthiness of the gospel? Paul explains that when we resist the temptation to fear that our resisting actually “proves perdition” to our adversaries. What does this mean? The resisting of fear actually brings conviction to the hearts of those deceived by Satan’s lies, in this place the Holy Spirit convicts the world of both sin and righteousness, revealing their sin and Jesus’ righteousness. Resisting fear is not simply about you and I living to our fullest, it is about Jesus being glorified, He is exalted where fear is resiste, remember, “perfect love casts out fear.”
Finally in this short passage we are studying today, Paul writes, “For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.” Resisting fear sometimes creates suffering, but suffering teaches obedience and leads to perseverance which leads to character which leads to hope and hope does not fail. Suffering is not something to be avoided, it is someting to be seen as “granted on behalf of Christ”. Again, going back to our teaching on soverignty, this does not mean that God causes you to suffer, but rather that in His greatness He can use even the enemies attempts to destroy you and break you faith as tools to build you up, bring you good and display His glory.
Throughout this short passage we see that God has a plan, a purpose and a desire for each of us. He longs to give us the strength to live worthy of the gospel, but we have to begin to understand that that strength is increased within the Body of Christ, not outside of it. Our power to live worthy, our power to resist fear, our power to endure and even embrace suffering is found in and through each other. We are not grafted into the vine to become separate trees, we are grafted in to be branches of one vine, we belong to Christ and we belong with each other. There is enormous power in “we”, in it there is the power to stand, to strive, to walk worthy and to resist the enemy until he flees. I pray today that we will join together and find greater strength, courage, power and joy than we have ever experienced apart. We are many members, but we belong to each other so that we can form the one body