Philippians chapter 1
Standout verse: Phil 1:27 – “Only, live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that… I will know that you are standing firm in one spirit, striving side by side with one mind for the faith of the gospel.”
- the you is plural – directed to the Church (ie. the people who believe)
- what does living “worthy of the gospel” mean? If the gospel is about the unconditional acceptance/love that we receive in Christ, how can we live worthy of that? Traditionally this is probably interpreted to live remaining pure, not sinning. But, could this also mean accepting that we are accepted, living knowing that not just “I” have received God’s grace, but that others have too. This becomes our commonality, our source of unity. It means that we don’t compare ourselves to others, we don’t look down on others. Rather we see others as receiving God’s grace, just like me. Or we see ourselves as receiving God’s grace, just like others.
- The emphasis is on unity. The work is being done side by side, not in competition with each other. This works between individuals in the Church, and between individual Churches within the universal Church.
- It is very difficult to have “one mind”
- Paul later will emphasize that the “one mind” that we must have is “the mind of Christ”. Ie. we need to be directed by Christ and nothing else. This requires serious prayer and discernment – no easy task. And this is to be done in community, which will mean argument at times, because we may disagree on what we think Christ’s will is.
I need to continually work on listening to the people in my congregation and must keep finding ways to equip and empower teams of people to do ministry. One thing about the Presbyterian Church that is wonderful is that at its best it is the people, or elders (prayerfully elected by the congregation) that discern together the will of Christ for the congregation. Ministers might help promote vision and mission in the congregation, but ultimately, they are servants of God and the people. For us, we are all servants of God and each other, as Paul would have us be, working together for God’s purposes.