Philippians 2:1-2 is a run-on sentence showing us the posture required to “live in a manner worthy of the gospel.” Here’s the posture: Unity. But before and as the basis for that unity, Paul lavishes us with the encouraging realities of the gospel.
Surrendering to God’s grace in Christ produces in us an unusual reaction to opposition and our marginalized position in society. Grace makes us confident and humble at the same time.
“The grace of being permitted to believe in Christ is surpassed by the grace of being permitted to suffer for him, of being permitted to walk the way of Christ with Christ himself to the perfection of fellowship with him.”
I would say: we are living worthy of the gospel when we are striving for the faith of the gospel with fearlessness and unity. Or: the mark of living worthily of the gospel is a unified, fearless striving for the faith of the gospel.
...this is the counter-intuitive message of the gospel: Jesus becomes our life (Col. 3:4). His life unbalances the scales permanently in our favor, and our lives are to reflect the beauty of his mercy and love. How is the gospel “unbalancing” your life in the direction of mercy and love toward others?
Paul is actually describing Christians as having “counter-citizenship.” This would have been revolutionary to the church in the Roman colony of Philippi who so prized their Roman citizenship.
Paul saw himself as a farmhand in God’s field. His desire is simply to be useful, fruitful. Fruitful labor for Paul is attending to the growth that God gives. He’s watching the God’s field for signs of spiritual life breaking through the soil bearing spiritual fruit in people’s lives.
Do you see what Paul is showing us? Whatever your “For me, to live” is whether it’s family, friends, career, spouse, children, whatever it is. It had better be good, because when the tragedies of life come and go after your bottom line, you either utterly collapse, or you have to convert to a new bottom line.
And yet, Paul is unshaken, unstirred. He’s doesn’t fume or fuss. He simply says, “So how am I to respond? I’ve decided that I really don’t care about their motives, whether mixed, bad, or indifferent. Every time one of them opens his mouth, Christ is proclaimed, so I just cheer them on!”
There are, aren’t there, only three things we can do about death: to desire it, to fear it, or to ignore it. The third alternative, which is the one the modern world calls ‘healthy’ is surely the most uneasy and precarious of all.” —C.S. Lewis
That’s the deal, the unbreakable covenant promise, God makes with us. We come empty handed or not at all. We come knowing that our sin separates us from God’s presence, but even more so that Jesus made our separation his own.