One of the greatest blessings in life is living a life that is worth living. Our family likes to camp, but I am not sure that I would enjoying doing it all the time. The same holds for vacations and others activities. I enjoying getting away for a break, but if it goes too long I get bored. The greatest satisfaction I have found is living a life that makes a difference.
Now, I am not against camping or vacations or whatever and I believe that there can be personal benefit gained. I guess my concern is the struggle of living a self-focused life. I know how easily my joy evaporates when I am the focus of my schedule. I also know the overflowing joy that comes from serving others.
This morning my Men’s group had a great time discussing the sermon of the past week. We spent a decent amount of time dissecting the introduction verse from Sunday. “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,” (Philippians 1:27) The phrase “manner of life” speaks of being a good citizen of Heaven. It is a verse that reminds us to invest our lives in making a difference.
The greatest motivation for living an other-centered life is in our relationship with Jesus Christ. He is actually our example. It is later in Philippians 2 that the Apostle Paul reminds us of Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf. The Apostle Paul reminds us of the same motivation in his letter to the Corinthian believers after referring to Jesus’ death for our benefit, “and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.”(2 Corinthians 5:15)
Paul is writing to what we would consider a healthy church. Yet, he is reminding them to not lose sight of the Lord’s purpose for them and their congregation. A good question to regularly ask ourselves is, “Am I living a life that honors the Lord?” The word “worthy” communicates making life choices that would be consistent with the way that Jesus lived and acted. One of our greatest personal challenges is recognizing our propensity to be self-focused with the second being making the necessary adjustments, even sacrifices, to serve our Lord and others.
The focus in the context of Paul’s letter to the church is about coming together around a common goal then working together to move towards accomplishing it. The specific goal in focus is found in the last phrase of the verse, “for the faith of the gospel.” This is a primary purpose of every local church and the responsibility of every member. The term “striving” would be illustrated today with a modern sports team. Our real effectiveness as Jesus’ followers is realized, as mentioned here, by working together, “side by side.”
It is a great blessing to be part of a local congregation that consists of people just like those in Philippi. But it is important for us to keep our focus on why the Lord has us here at this time in history. It is to make a difference for Him. It does require that we work together. If the last 20 years have taught us anything it is that a fulfilling life is the result of serving the Lord and others!
-Pastor Joe Parkinson