“For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake…” Philippians 1:29
I hear a lot of people say, “Jesus, and nothing else!” That’s true. But I’m wondering if everyone who says that really understands what they’re saying. I’m wondering if when we say that we really understand what it means when it’s put into Your perspective, Lord. Because I’m trying to really understand. I’m trying to figure out if I’m responding correctly to some people and situations in my life and that’s why I’m reading and re-rereading Philippians right now. That’s why I’m not just reading it but asking You about it. That’s why I’m digging into what Paul’s words really mean here.
Sometimes I wonder if it is enough to just “believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.” And understand what I mean here. I seem to see some people choosing to believe the facts about You, Lord, but they’re not believing the actions that ought to be following in their lives. I mean, how can I read Scripture and see this radical change in life and actions flow out of Biblical believers but look around in my culture and not see that coming out of “believers”? When did the meaning of “believe” change?
See, Paul puts the meat on the word believe. It’s not just knowing and agreeing with the facts of the Gospel, with the facts about Jesus. He says to believers, “it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in Him but also suffer for His sake…” To me, that means that believing is always accompanied by action that takes sacrifice. That word “suffer” is from the Greek word “pascho”. It’s all about experiencing and it’s also associated with pain. The thing I find interesting is that this word is one letter different from “pascha” which is the Passover. And I wonder if the whole image isn’t supposed to be interrelated here. Only this isn’t supposed to be our life only when celebrating a holiday. This is supposed to be our life every day. Just like it was the life of You, Jesus, every day.
Paul says we ought to have the same conflicts as he had all the time. We ought to see those conflicts in our lives. Why? Because look at all the conflicts You, our Savior, had in Your life, because You were not only proclaiming You and proclaiming the truth, but You were walking it out in the reality of Your life. And walking out and living out the reality of God’s truth in this world is a radical thing. Who touches the lepers and cares more about them then their own well-being? Who breaks tradition to really do the will of God? Who cares more about what God thinks than what man thinks? Who is willing to spend their life for those who are His enemies? Who is willing to look like a fool in order to please His heavenly Father? Who is willing to not fight back in order to save the least? Who is willing and able to give up everything for someone who doesn’t care? Who would really sacrifice something for someone else without the guarantee of gaining something in return? But this is what You, Jesus, did. This was Your life. And this was Paul’s life. This is believing. And if my life doesn’t look like this, what do I really believe about You? Do I really believe?
These are the kind of believers that Paul is thankful to You, for, Lord. These are the ones he prays that God would give more grace to. These are the ones he remembers joyfully in His prayers. Because he remembers and knows their “fellowship in the Gospel from the first day until now.” And that’s not just talking that they are out their preaching with him. He’s talking about these believers who were living out with all their lives what they believed. They were living out the Gospel just like Paul was. They were sharing in the same experiences, good and bad, because the Gospel isn’t just a belief. The Gospel is life. You live it. You walk it. You breath it. You do more than just think it or think about it. You do more than just tell people about it.
It’s something that God, through Jesus Christ and the power and work of the Holy Spirit does in a person. At the moment of our surrender to You, You begin this good work in us. And You continue to do this work in us until the day we are fully with You and You complete it. And this work isn’t just inside. This work begins on the inside and it flows out. And this work unites us in You and with You. And this work You are doing unites us with one another. This glorious thing that You are doing in me, doesn’t just put You in my heart, but it puts others in my heart, just like it did with Paul. Just like, You, Jesus, genuinely loved others, You do that in me.
Paul’s joy came from the way that these believers partnered with Him in the Gospel. And that really means that. It means that they were true partners. They were people who came right alongside him, taking part in the worship and the work and the loving on people and the stepping out of their own comfort zones and into the realm of where Jesus walked. It wasn’t just about preaching. It was about living. It was about your words matching your life and your life matching your words. And it was all about your life and your words matching the life and words of You, Jesus. So my question today is, do my words and my life match Your words and Your life? And I don’t mean just a little bit. You were radical. Is my life radical like You? If not, what’s holding me back? Is there something I don’t believe?
Lord, if I could choose anyone to partner with, I would want You first. And I’m so grateful for this work You have begun in me. And I am so grateful that You are continuing it in me. And I’m grateful that You are starting and continuing this work of Yours in others around me. My prayer is that I and they would truly and fully partner with You to the point of experiencing both the joy and the suffering that comes from walking right there with You. Because if I’m not experiencing what You experience, then I’m not really walking with You. And to not walk with You, that would be the greatest tragedy I could ever imagine. Lord, all I know is this, I don’t need an agenda. I just need to walk with You in the reality of life, in the reality of every moment, and that is Your desire for me. May You turn to me and be filled with joy to see that I am standing firm in one spirit with You, with one mind striving side by side with You in the faith that is You, living in every bit of Your beautiful, wonderful, miraculous, real, and present Gospel.