Living What We Believe

Philippians 1:27
27 Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.

The most difficult part of being a follower of Jesus is doing what we know to do. The knowing is important, otherwise we wouldn’t have a standard for behavior; but the doing is the evidence that we believe what we know.

That’s why claiming to be a “Christian” can be empty and baseless. Anyone can make a claim. In fact, many do. But how we live is the evidence that we are followers of Jesus; not what we say.

Every day we all struggle with this tension; am I putting into practice what I know the Bible teaches? So Paul, with this in mind, reminds us that how we conduct ourselves in the context of all of life’s unexpected twists and turns is a reflection of the values and truths which Jesus taught us. “Whatever happens,” Paul says, “be that man or be that woman who is a child of God.”

He, then, continues this thought in Philippians, chapter 2.

Philippians 2:1-11
1 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion,
2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.

The admonition to be of one spirit and one mind is often interpreted to mean we must all behave exactly the same. We should look the same, talk the same, do the same things, etc. And while it is true the spirit of God in each of us will cause us all to operate according to the same governing principles, this does not necessarily mean the expression of those principles will look exactly the same from one believer to the next.

I know followers of Jesus who drink wine in moderation. I grew up abstaining from all alcohol. The scriptures teach us not to become enslaved by addiction to that which will become our master if abused. My approach to that is abstinence and I don’t expect that will ever change for me but that doesn’t mean a brother or sister who is judicious in their alcohol consumption is less a follower of Jesus. We must both conform to the Biblical mandate not to be enslaved by that which can control us and make us its servant.

3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,
4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

One of the worst things a follower of Jesus can do is leverage the fact that they are children of God for personal gain. Whether it be for financial gain or guilting others into doing what we want done, it is unlike Christ to use others for our own benefit. Rather, Paul encourages us to consider the needs of others above our own.

5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;

If Jesus didn’t abuse His divine nature and power for personal gain, how wrong is it if we do? To do so is to reveal that we really do not have a relationship with God which is healthy and Biblically authentic. Sometimes this requires we resist our natural inclinations developed over years of identifying with worldly ways and influences. But following Jesus requires changes in how we think and behave. This may take time, but new behaviors repeated become habits and natural responses.

7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Jesus allowed Himself to be sacrificed to prove His love for us and to reconcile us to our Heavenly Father. He lowered Himself so that we could be rescued and made alive in the Spirit. In the end, however, the sacrifice Jesus made for us becomes the reason we bow in worship to Him. He lowered Himself and now we exalt Him. To be like Him, we must also practice humility and serve one another out of love.

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