So often the Spirit nudges me while I'm reading the Bible. I will read a verse or passage and a message jumps off the page.
As I read in Philippians one day this past week, a section at the end stuck in my mind.
"Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved - and that by God." Philippians 1:27-28 NIV
"Meanwhile, live in such a way that you are a credit to the Message of Christ. Let nothing in your conduct hang on whether I come or not. Your conduct must be the same whether I show up to see things for myself or hear of it from a distance. Stand united, singular in vision, contending for people's trust in the message, the good news, not flinching or dodging in the slightest before the opposition. Your courage and unity will show them what they're up against: defeat for them, victory for you - both because of God." Philippians 1:27-28 The Message
When I read these verses, I felt like Paul was speaking straight to Christians of today. With so much opposition to our faith every way we turn, it would be easy to be frightened and just dodge it all. But Paul is giving us a pep talk here.
First he reminds us that we aren't alone. We must stand unified as Christians, as the body of Christ. Both verses use the word contending which has the synonyms of competing, battling, and fighting. We must have a team with a unified goal to compete well for souls. We do much better in a battle when our comrades are by our sides. We can fight more effectively with those who share our vision. We aren't meant to be lone Christians.
Paul says we must specifically stand up for the message of the gospel without being frightened, flinching, or dodging the opposition. This can be difficult with what the enemy is throwing our way. I mean really, removing the Linus monologue where he quotes Luke two in the Charlie Brown Christmas program? And not allowing signs or expressions of Merry Christmas? Then our opposition will sound loud and proud as they spout off their rights. They begin to gather those who agree and they get louder. Cue in the flinching, dodging, and fright. But Paul says to continue to live in such a way that we are a credit to our message of Christ.
What I love is that Paul doesn't just say not to fear but that our courage and unity will prove what our opposition is up against. The truth is that there is defeat ahead for those who oppose Christ and victory for us. I love that Paul is quick to add that this has nothing to do with us but all because of God.
My brothers and sisters in Christ, please know that I stand with you in the truth of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord and will contend with you, resisting fear and knowing victory is sure.
In light of this, I wish you a very merry and Christ-filled Christmas!