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Live in a worthy manner…

November 11, 2014

Wow… Life took hold of me for a while, and it appears as though I’ve neglected writing for a bit! Family events, graduate school work, fall ministry events, and well… life tend to get crazy at times… I apologize to those of you who take the time to read my ramblings and whatnot. I will endeavor to be more consistent prior to 2015 so I don’t have to make it a new year’s resolution!

It’s hard to believe that I’m almost 1/3 of the way through my graduate studies… I feel like I just started, and I also feel like I’ve got a loooong way to go. Well, I DO have a long way to go, but I’m enjoying the journey! This is an “elephant” I don’t mind eating, because each bite is filled with knowledge, truth, and skills which will ultimately benefit both myself and the kingdom of God as I am able to master and implement them. It is hard to believe I’ve come this far at times, since it only took me 17 years to finish a 4 year Bachelor’s degree… Growing in maturity and a new-found love for reading & learning are blessings from God!

This latest class I’m taking is a Homiletics course. For those who are not sure what that means, it is basically a class in which students gain new tools for Scriptural interpretation and message preparation. For the past 4 weeks, we’ve been digging through to the bare bones of Philippians 1:1-30. The Apostle Paul wrote this letter to the Church at Philippi while imprisoned in Rome. Now, one might think he would be writing to them in order to ask for help in procuring his release, right? Wrong. Rather than focusing on his circumstances, the entire letter focuses on encouraging and exhorting the Church to stand up for the gospel of Christ regardless of the opposition or circumstances they faced.

As I read through, there’s a particular part of the first chapter that really captured my attention.

Paul says, “Conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.” – Philippians 1:27 [NASB]

How am I do live in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ? Paul states I am to “stand firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel” with my fellow Christians. Sounds easy, right? Oh… wait… I almost forgot… We’re all HUMAN BEINGS… While we are all made in the image of the triune God, we are not all the same. We are uniquely designed by a loving Creator who apparently loves unity in diversity! Ask the same question in a room of 100 people, and you’ll likely get 100 different answers. Some of those answers might be similar, but odds are none of them will be exactly the same.

That being said, how are we supposed to stand firm in one spirit and with one mind? As my Lead Minister is so fond of saying, “You don’t have to be my twin to be my brother.” Translation? We can serve the same God, serve the same Christ, and have the same Holy Spirit within us without agreeing on absolutely everything. Another saying he loves is “In essentials, unity. In everything else, liberty.” What does that mean? If we can agree that the gospel is true, then we can discuss the rest and hopefully find some common ground.

It also means we don’t have to fight about every single little thing that comes along. There will ALWAYS be points of difference between Christians because we are human. There will always be points of contention between Christians because we come from different denominational backgrounds. There will always be points of contention between Christians because we interpret Scripture according to many factors unique to each of our history, upbringing, and experiences. The issue arises when those differences cause so much division that the body of Christ is wounded in the process.

Rather than striving to “be right,” perhaps we should follow the words of Paul and conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel by agreeing on the essentials, that we might be in one spirit and of one mind. That just might be what advances the kingdom in the face of rising opposition.

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