(September 16, 2017) 5:12 AM Still working on my translation of Phil. 1:27-30. Here’s the latest iteration:
Now the only thing in life that really matters is that you live out your Kingdom citizenship in a manner required by the Gospel of Christ, so that, whether or not I’m able to go and see you in person, I will hear that all of you are standing side by side with one common purpose: to work together as one team to see people put their trust in the Gospel. Don’t allow your enemies to intimidate you in any way. Your boldness in the midst of such persecution will prove to them that they will lose and that you will win, because it is God who gives you the victory. For God has granted you the privilege, for the sake of Christ, of not only believing in Him but also suffering for Him. It’s your turn to take part with me in the battle I’m fighting — the same battle you saw me fighting in the past and, as you hear, the one I’m fighting now.
There are 3 themes here:
1) The church must act corporately and cooperatively (with one common purpose and goal) if others are to come to faith in Christ.
2) Since unbelievers are devoted to another “lord,” persecution and opposition will be inevitable. Hence boldness is required — a kind of uncommon courage that will prove to one’s enemies that they are headed for certain destruction.
3) The Christian life is a struggle, all of it, from beginning to end. If our Lord was crucified, should we expect any less? The path to heaven always leads through a cross.
What does this say to a 65-year old Greek prof? Today’s news is frightening. There are wars (Afghanistan) and rumors of wars (North Korea). International tensions abound. Increasing numbers of the elderly are putting an almost overwhelming strain on Social Security. I realize I am growing older. Some day my children will have to become parents to me. They should understand my joy is found in serving Jesus. Even though I feel nostalgia for the days gone by, I am living in the “now.” Yes, I need time for renewal and reflection, but I also want to be active. I want to remind my students (and blog readers) that partnership in the Gospel includes mutual suffering. Discipleship is always costly. If it isn’t costing us anything, then it isn’t discipleship. Christ is our only paradigm. By living the “cruciform” life, He showed us the way forward. It’s the path of downward mobility. It means having a genuine interest in others’ welfare. It means putting aside our own selfish interests. It means adopting Jesus’ definition of “rich.” (Farewell keeping up with the Joneses.) It may mean risking one’s life for the sake of Christ. It is not enough to be citizens of America. The Gospel proclaims only one Lord, who is the incarnate Savior. Nothing is more important today than living out a Christlike vision of the kingdom. The United States can never be the kingdom of God. God’s kingdom looks just like Jesus, and no amount of pom-pom waving will ever lead one person to salvation. To miss this central focus on the Lord Jesus is to miss the focus of the entire book of Philippians. Christ is the focus of everything God has done and everything He will yet do in this world.
Dear reader, may we “join together” this very day in “imitating” Paul by “walking” as he walked (Phil. 3:17). For, you see, “the only thing in life that really matters” is truly the only thing in life that really matters.