“Live in a manner worthy of Christ’s gospel”

Posted Sep 12, 2020

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Daily Scripture

(We encourage you to read all of Philippians 1 each day this week. As you do today, focus on verses 27-30, printed below.)

Philippians 1:27-30

27 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. 28 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. 29 God has generously granted you the privilege, not only of believing in Christ but also of suffering for Christ’s sake. 30 You are having the same struggle that you saw me face and now hear that I’m still facing.

Reflection Questions

Paul had said he might live and be freed or die as a criminal in the eyes of Rome. His fate should not alter the Philippians’ way of life as Christ-followers. They needed to “live together in a manner worthy of Christ’s gospel,” to “stand firm, united in one spirit and mind.” Again, the Greek takes us deeper into Paul’s message: “The phrase ‘live together’ is drawn from a noun that means ‘citizen.’ Paul calls them to live as citizens of Christ’s realm rather than as Roman citizens.”* This mattered in Philippi, a Roman colony city in Macedonia, many of whose people proudly upheld their status as Roman citizens even though they were not in Rome. It may have specific value in this heated election year. Many, though not all, GPS readers are United States citizens, but Paul reminded his readers (and us) that our ultimate loyalty is to Christ’s realm, not any earthly kingdom. Whatever comes, we can face life with faithfulness and courage as citizens loyal to Jesus, our true king.

  • Spend some moments pondering the call to “live together in a manner worthy of Christ’s gospel.” If someone asked you “What is the gospel?” do you know how you would answer? (If you’d be stumped, take a look at a passage we’ll study in a couple of weeks—Philippians 3:8-11.) What does it mean for you to live in a manner worthy of that life-changing, world-changing message? In what ways is that a bigger challenge than just giving up a few bad habits? How do some of your priorities, choices and activities look different when you think of yourself as a “citizen of Christ’s realm” rather than as a “church goer”? Have you accepted, or are you ready to accept, that challenge?

Prayer

Lord Jesus, you gave your all to open the doors of your kingdom for even a struggler like me. I have a lot to learn and grow in, but I want to be a citizen of your kingdom. Count me in! Amen.


* Jerry L. Sumney, study note on Philippians 1:27-30 in The CEB Study Bible. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2013, p. 376 NT.

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GPS Guide

Whether you’re just starting to explore the Christian faith, or you’re a long-time Christian, we want to do everything we can to help you on your journey to know, love and serve God. The GPS (Grow, Pray, Study) Guide provides Scripture and insights to enhance your journey. If you have a question or comment about the GPS Guide, please send it to GPS@cor.org.

Darrell Holtz

Darrell Holtz

Darrell Holtz serves as Program Director for Adult Curriculum and Writing at Church of the Resurrection. He has two adult children, and two smart, handsome grandsons.

He had just turned 28. Life was getting exciting. He'd never been out of the United States. From his boyhood, he had always dreamed of being a missionary--going to a foreign country to serve God and the church he loved. He'd hoped for China, but the Communist takeover there thwarted that dream. Now his church was sending him to Brazil. It was a dream come true. To add to the excitement, his wife was expecting their first child in late November/early December.

Then the church leaders told him they expected him to arrive in Brazil in October. And this man (he was my dad) told them "no." He wasn't going to Brazil until after his child had been born. I never found out details about he knew this, but he said he did not want me to have to deal with the issues of dual citizenship. He held firm, and in the end my parents arrived in Brazil the following February with little 3-month-old me.

As a kid I didn't know about my dad's firm stance, and I had no reason to care. We spoke both English and Portuguese at home, and I loved lots of things about Brazil. (I can still get nostalgic goose bumps if I watch the Brazilian national soccer team and hear the national anthem.) But I remember the day, when I was older, that I heard my dad talking about a family friend who had dual American/Brazilian citizenship and was having legal problems because the two countries' laws about compulsory military service differed. I still couldn't fathom all the legal issues, but I realized that my dad's foresight had made my life simpler. And I was grateful.

That's why, as I prepared this week's GPS, this phrase from the CEB Study Bible particularly caught my attention: “The phrase ‘live together’ is drawn from a noun that means ‘citizen.’ Paul calls them to live as citizens of Christ’s realm rather than as Roman citizens.” * When Paul was first in Philippi, he had made practical use of the fact that he was a Roman citizen (cf. Acts 16:35-40). He did again later (cf. Acts 22:25-29). But in today's passage he reminded the Philippians that their true citizenship and his, their ultimate allegiance, was to King Jesus, not to Caesar in Rome. They lived in the Roman Empire; they sought to be good citizens whenever possible. But they were citizens of Christ's realm, not Rome's.

"Live in a manner worthy of Christ's gospel," I realize, is about citizenship. I loved many things about Brazil, yet I always knew that on this earth, I am a citizen of the United States. I love my country, with all its flaws and foibles. But I do not have a dual citizenship. Sometimes, like the Philippians ("struggle together to remain faithful to the gospel"--verse 27), I struggle. But my ultimate allegiance is not to the United States, but to my heart's one true king. That can't be a one-day-a-week citizenship, a part-time commitment. I have chosen to live as a citizen of Christ's realm, as my dad did when he committed himself to serve God in a foreign country. That citizenship has shaped my life and filled it with eternal meaning. I hope you have joined me in this wonderful citizenship, or that you will.

* Jerry L. Sumney, study note on Philippians 1:27-30 in The CEB Study Bible. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2013, p. 376 NT.

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