With the coronavirus lockdown leaving us in a state of “partially reopened” and “partially closed,” and with violent protests and riots bringing looting and burning to cities across the United States, you might wonder what will happen next. It’s impossible to know until it happens, but whatever happens we can be confident knowing the Bible gives us guidance for how to live in uncertain times. Whatever happens we can trust the word of God and do good.
In thinking about this, I was reminded of the first part of Philippians 1:27, which says: “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” The Apostle Paul wrote those words when he was in prison for doing nothing more than telling people of God’s love through Jesus Christ. When he writes “whatever happens” he’s indicating that he doesn’t know if he will eventually be released from prison or be tortured and executed for his faith.
To Paul, regardless of what happened next, he wanted to live in a manner worthy of the gospel and that’s what he’s encouraging the believers in Philippi—and us—to do too. Persecution was building against the church and in the face of suffering for their faith Paul’s message was to live a life worthy of the gospel.
He was calling them to unity in the love of Christ; to love one another with the selfless love Christ demonstrated in going to the cross for us. He is also calling them to maintain the courage of their conviction that Jesus is the Christ and to seek his will rather than pursuing the desires of the flesh.
In the rest of Philippians 1:27 we see Paul’s confidence in gospel-worthy conduct: “I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel.” Whatever happened to them, Paul knew that putting Christ first and living to please him would unify them and equip them to stand firm regardless of the challenges of their circumstances or any persecution they might face.
These words ring true for us today too as the church faces growing persecution around the world, including right here in America. If we purpose to live in a manner worthy of the gospel, we will produce fruit for the kingdom of God and the Bible says we will shine like stars as we bring the love of Christ to a crooked and depraved generation (Philippians 2:15-16). So, whatever happens, let’s commit ourselves to standing firm in God’s love and to sharing it with the world around us.
Having begun as a guest speaker in 2005, Dan was appointed Interim Pastor in 2008 and has been serving Maple Root Baptist ever since. As a small group leader and Chaplin for the Connecticut Tigers, Dan has a heart for the lost and the God that saves them.