“A worthy life must include both personal holiness and an outward orientation of unity in mission and courage in the face of adversity.”
Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – November 13, 2021
Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. Philippians 1:27-28a, ESV
What does it mean to live a life worthy of the gospel? For many years, I would have only interpreted this command through a highly personalized and individualistic lens. A worthy life was a holy life, free from sins that so easily entangle—lust, pride, jealousy, anger—learning to instead walk along the straight and narrow path. The worthiness of my life was entirely wrapped up in whether or not I was living a pure life. And, to be clear, holiness and purity of heart is central to our pursuit as followers of Jesus, yet today St. Paul is reminding us that a worthy life must include both personal holiness and an outward orientation of unity in mission and courage in the face of adversity.
When Paul calls the Philippian Christians to a life worthy of the gospel, his immediate command is not private holiness but unified mission for the sake of the world. He longs to hear that they are “standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel” (Philippians 1:27). If we reduce “the gospel” to personal salvation apart from our unity with other Christians, we miss a significant part of the call of Christ upon our lives! For Paul, faithfulness in Christian living necessarily involved the messy and difficult work of striving for unity and brotherly love with the family of faith. As Scripture reminds us elsewhere, we cannot love God and hate our brother (1 John 4:20). Simply put, your pursuit of holiness and peace must be a shared pursuit, learning to strive alongside your brothers and sisters in Christ for the sake of the gospel, witnessing to the world of the reconciling and restorative power of Christ for all who believe.
Lastly, Paul reminds us today of a timeless truth: isolation breeds fear and anxiety. Though we will all have seasons of peace and relative calm, storms so often appear on the horizon with little to no warning. A lost job. A call from the doctor with lab results. A single text message that turns your world upside down. In these moments, the cares of the world threaten to overtake our hearts and lives, uprooting us from the sure and unshakable foundation of Christ. As individuals, we will all have moments of fear and uncertainty, yet when we are bound to the people of God in love and mutual trust, it is possible to not be “frightened in anything” (Philippians 1:28).
Tend to your own soul and walk with God, seeking purity of heart in all that you do, yet never isolate this journey from the shared mission of the church, for it is there that our hope is sustained and our salvation secured, learning together to live lives worthy of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Father, thank you for the gift of Christ’s body, the church, within which we learn to work out our salvation and are made ready for eternity. Help us in the present to live lives worthy of your eternal Kingdom, we pray through Christ our Lord. Amen.
In what ways do you intentionally invite other Christians into your life and enter in to theirs, journeying together for the sake of the gospel?
The Poor Clares of Arundel: Veni Creator Spiritus
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