Category Archives: Reflections

What is conduct worthy of the Gospel?

I wanted to share a quick thought with you all that I had last week while reading the Scriptures. It comes from Philippians 1:27-30, which says:

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. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.

(Philippians 1:27-30 ESV)

What occurred to me after reading this is what living in a manner worthy of the Gospel actually entails. In this passage, which is a complete paragraph by the way, what is described is striving side by side with others for the Faith and standing firm against opposition. Suffering for the cause of Christ is also described as an honor. For my part, I find it hard to see this attitude in American Christianity these days. Suffering is at least being talked about these days, at least in some Christian circles, but from my experience it seems to focus mostly on helping people to endure it. And while this is certainly a good thing it doesn’t give suffering the place that Paul bestows on it in this passage, that it is an honor to suffer for the cause of Christ. How transforming would it be not only for us personally, but for American Christianity as a whole, if suffering was elevated to the level of being honorable?

Also, being conflicted between continuing to live in the flesh and departing to be with Christ (the “conflict” in the last sentence; see Philippians 1:18-26) should be expected. Do we have this attitude? Do we experience this conflict frequently in our lives? I know that I don’t, but I also know that I would like to.

This is conduct worthy of the Gospel, how does it compare with what you have been taught is conduct worthy of the Gospel?

Reflection: Community

I recently came to what you could call an epiphany concerning what community entails, so I figured I would share it with you all.

I’ve always been puzzled by the inability of people to establish community with one another, even among Christians. Some do indeed succeed in this area, but it seems that most groups of people fail to establish community for one reason or another. I’ve wondered why this is and yesterday it occurred to me what the reason for this might be: the failure to realize that each individual must make contributions to the group if community is to be established. A community is not a place that you take from because you need something from the other members, it is a place where you give yourself because the other members need something from you, and where the other members give themselves because you need something from them.

David and Jonathan

David and Jonathan

Everybody comes to a community needing just that, community. Community is something that has to be created though, which means that materials need to be contributed and fashioned in order for community to take shape. The basic material that needs to be contributed is love for the other members of the community. I think it is a very rare occurrence for someone to come to a community and naturally have love for the other members of the community, so usually this love must be established somehow. This love for others can be established simply by making an investment in their life. This doesn’t need to involve something huge, or even involve them, it can be something little, like praying for them,  asking them how a project at work or school turned out that they previously mentioned, or having a conversation with them watching a game. You don’t have to feel the desire to do these things at first, in fact you probably won’t. But if you force yourself to do them eventually you will come to genuinely love the others and will no longer need to force yourself to do these things.

The point is that everyone needs community, but you cannot gain what you need from community by taking from others, because what you need is to be part of a community and this will not happen until you contribute to the others in the community by loving them. You are only a part of something so long as you contribute to its benefit, otherwise you are a leech. Others need community just as much as you do, if they give themselves and you do not there is nothing for them to receive and you and them will both no longer have community. If everyone gives themselves everyone will get what they desire in community. As long as this is done the community will endure, when this is no longer practiced is when the community will fail.

The lesson for me in this is to share my thoughts, feelings, desires, etc with the people around me and not just keep them to myself and force myself to take an interest in their life, even if I don’t feel like it at first (probably a consequence of being an introvert) because they need them, and I need their thoughts, feelings, love, etc. This is God’s design for us to be in community and help each other because He saw that it was not good for man to be alone and He made a helper suitable for him.

Reflection: Psalm 19

The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words,
whose voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.
(Psalm 19:1-4 ESV)

This is one of my favorite Psalms. I love how this psalm likens God’s law to God’s creation. There is so much that I could say about this Psalm, but for today I will just highlight one idea this psalm expresses.

The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.
(Psalm 19:1-2 ESV)

Christ Carrying the Cross

God has fashioned creation in such a way that it continuously declares His glory. It doesn’t stop, it declares it day to day and night to night. At any point in time you can see God’s glory displayed in creation. It could be a bird singing, a flower, an animal playing, a meteor shower, the stars at night, or any number of other things. The point is that creation is the work of God, and because it is the work of God it constantly displays His glory; it endures.

Christians are also God’s creation (in varying stages of completion), but I rarely ever hear endurance mentioned as a characteristic of a Christian. This is unfortunate because I consider this to be the most important characteristic of a Christian: endurance through life, that is keeping your faith in Jesus throughout your life until the end (1).

Just as God’s physical creation endures and proclaims His glory day to day and night to night, so should God’s spiritual creation (2). As Paul says:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

(2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV)

In Christ we gain the endurance to proclaim God’s glory day to day and night to night. We will indeed bear the fruit of the Spirit if we abide in Christ, but we should not forget that endurance is a fruit as well.

Footnotes:

  1. Doubt does not indicate a lack of faith. Many great saints from the past have wrestled with doubt (Augustine for example). Check out the Credo House Ministries blog for posts on wrestling with doubt.
  2. To be sure, humans are both physical as well as spiritual.