A Life Worthy Of The Gospel
A story appeared in the news about a student who received a $200,000 scholarship from the United States Navy. It was the top award given to the best and brightest students with the highest potential. Imagine this student and another student working three jobs to attend college. When each student has failing grades at the end of the semester, which of the two would most people find astonishing and disappointing? Of course, the one who received the privilege. How could the person who possessed so much advantage squander it all away? When Paul writes to the Philippians, he reminds them in the letter’s first chapter to “lead a life worthy of the Gospel.” Not long ago, a prominent Christian magazine produced a report comparing Christians and non-Christians concerning areas of addictions and unhealthy habits. What the survey revealed was a striking similarity between the two groups. Those who profess Christianity had the same compulsions and were driven by similar behaviors that were contrary to their well-being. Paul stresses how the Gospel promises elevating privileges which equip us with potential we wouldn’t have otherwise. We often hear people claim that they are spiritual but not religious. They mean that they can maintain their spiritual beliefs personally and privately. They insist it’s possible to practice their beliefs without attracting any publicity to themselves.
Paul reminds the Philippians that everyone leads a public life. Everything about our daily choices and decisions reveals to the watching world not only what we say we believe but, more importantly, to what degree those beliefs make any difference in our everyday lives. After the first Easter, Jesus promised the disciples they would be His “witnesses.” In the time that followed, those who became followers of “The Way” did so not because they saw the resurrected Jesus in the flesh. But, because they saw His followers who displayed the character of Jesus no differently than if they had seen Jesus in the flesh. This was the extravagant assurance Jesus offered the disciples when He promised they would do “Greater things than these.” All of the privileges Jesus possessed He would make available. The same miracle which brought Jesus forth from a tomb is offered to anyone who receives Jesus by faith. Now, all of the enrichment expressed in Jesus is expressed through those who submit to Jesus in trust. Those who bear the name “Christian” are called to display Christ’s identity. Whoever we are and wherever we are becomes, for the people around us, an empty tomb experience. By leading lives worthy of the Gospel, all of the riches that make the Gospel “Good News” flow from our character with uncontainable fullness. This is how we are His representatives of the heavenly kingdom.
To show Christ to the world doesn’t depend on what we do in our strength. Instead, it depends on what we allow Christ to do through us in His strength. It’s not a matter of whether we will give witness to something. Everyone, by virtue of living, gives witness to something. Our choices and decisions demonstrate what we love, what we care about, what we believe matters, and what we believe will ultimately count. To profess we are Christian and lead un-Christian lives is like receiving an extravagant scholarship and flunking. When Jesus calls His people to be His witnesses, He is staking the demonstration of Easter on our testimony. Worrying over it assumes we have more on the line than Jesus does. We are assured everything we need to succeed is provided. Nothing is withheld from those Jesus loves. From the moment of the first Easter, Jesus showed His followers that God’s plan all along was for us to become living miracles. Now it’s our high calling to show the reality of Easter just as Jesus showed it then, right here and now.