Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – October 8, 2020
Only, live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that, whether I come and see you or am absent and hear about you, I will know that you are standing firm in one spirit, striving side by side with one mind for the faith of the gospel, and are in no way intimidated by your opponents. Philippians 1:27-28a (NRSV)
A few years back I decided to take up running. Though I hadn’t regularly exercised in years, I was convinced I would be able to jump right in without any training or real preparation needed. This worked well enough for about two months, and then I suffered an injury to my foot due to a lack of conditioning. As such, I spent more than three months unable to run, even struggling at times to walk without significant pain. Once I finally recovered from my injury, I had a decision to make. Would I be done with running for good, or would I press through the challenge and continue in a habit of regular running?
Though the details may vary from person to person, you and I have undoubtedly suffered many injuries this year. For some, these have been economic and physical. For others, emotional and relational. Yet whatever the injury may be, it has likely threatened to sideline you and derail your life with God, his people, and faithful service to others. However, we must remember that we are not the first Christians to encounter suffering, trial, and significant injury! In fact, without dismissing or trivializing anyone’s pain or present sorrow, it must be acknowledged that our present struggles pale in comparison to what countless Christians have endured over the centuries as they sought to faithfully follow our Lord Jesus.
I believe it is with the reality of struggle and sorrow in mind that we must read St. Paul’s words to us in Philippians 1: “Live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that, whether I come and see you or am absent and hear about you, I will know that you are standing firm in one spirit, striving side by side with one mind for the faith of the gospel.” Paul does not exhort these early Christians to “stand firm” because it is easy and without challenge. No, quite the opposite! He knows a life of complete surrender and devotion to Christ requires great effort and will be tested in countless ways.
Struggle is not a cause for alarm in our life of faith. Concern only enters when we fail to contend for that faith in the face of great struggle. We do this in our personal habits and life with God, and we must continue to find creative ways to press on and share life together as the family of God. As Paul says, live worthy of Christ, not in isolation, but as you “strive side by side” (Philippians 1:27). Even in the weariness and exhaustion of this present moment, do not let these momentary struggles keep you from trusting in the mercy and goodness of God.
“For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18).
Father, would you bring healing and wholeness to our many injuries, and as you do, give us the courage to press on and follow faithfully, we pray through Christ our Lord. Amen.
What injuries have you suffered this year that are keeping you sidelined in your faith journey?
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