Summary: If we want to promote the good news of God’s love, then we must stand together in suffering for the Savior.
Just a few years ago (February 2013), Great Britain's Food Standards Agency closed a slaughterhouse and a processing plant after investigators found horse carcasses had been used to make beef burgers and kebabs sold in Britain. A month later, Swedish furniture giant IKEA was drawn into the food labeling scandal as authorities said they had detected horsemeat in frozen meatballs labeled as beef and pork and sold in 13 countries across the continent.
Shortly after the European horsemeat scandal broke, officials in Iceland decided to run tests to make sure the same thing wasn't happening in Iceland. Fortunately, Icelandic meat inspectors didn't find any horsemeat, but one brand of locally produced beef pie left it stumped: it contained no meat at all. Instead it appeared to be some kind of vegetable product. One of the lead inspectors said, “That was the peculiar thing. It was labeled as beef pie, so it should be beef pie.” (CBCNews, “Horsemeat found in IKEA meatballs in Europe”, 2-25-13; CBCNews, “Iceland tests find meat pies contain no meat at all", 3-1-13; www.PreachingToday.com)
We carry the label “Christian.” What then do you suppose people should expect to find in our lives? Well, if you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to Philippians 1, Philippians 1, where the Bible clearly spells that out.
Philippians 1:27a Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ… (ESV)
The Bible is very clear. If you call yourself a “Christian,” you should…
LIVE IN A MANNER WORTHY OF THE GOSPEL.
Conduct yourself in a way that brings honor to the good news of Jesus Christ. Relate to one another in a way that glorifies the One who died for you and rose again.
Nearly 40 years ago (1978), when the New York Yankees were the dominant team in major league baseball, the manager would say to the rookies, “Boys, it's an honor just to put on the New York pinstripes. So when you put them on, play like world champions. Play like Yankees. Play proud.” (Bill Hybels, "The Certainty of Suffering," Preaching Today, Tape No.164)
That’s exactly the idea we have here. We have put on Christ. The Bible says we are clothed in His righteousness. Therefore, we should live like champions. We should conduct ourselves as real CHRISTIANS.
In the original language, verse 27 literally says, “Politic in a way worthy of the Gospel of Christ.” I suppose our politics today are anything but worthy of the Gospel, but in Bible days “politics” was a good word. It spoke of living together in a community. So verse 27 tells us that the good news of Christ’s love should have a profound effect on how we relate to one another.
A young lady named Sally took a seminary class taught by Professor Smith, who was known for his elaborate object lessons. One day, Sally walked into class to find a large target placed on the wall, with several darts resting on a nearby table. Professor Smith told the students to draw a picture of someone they disliked or someone who had made them angry – and he would allow them to throw darts at the person's picture.
Sally's friend (on her right), drew a picture of another woman who had stolen her boyfriend. Another friend (on her left), drew a picture of his younger brother. Sally drew a picture of Professor Smith, putting a great deal of detail into her drawing, even drawing pimples on his face! She was quite pleased at the overall effect she'd achieved.
The class lined up and began throwing darts amidst much laughter. Some of the students threw with such force that they ripped apart their targets. But Sally, looking forward to her turn, was filled with disappointment when Professor Smith asked the students to return to their seats so he could begin his lecture. As Sally fumed about missing her chance to throw the darts, the professor began removing the target from the wall.
Underneath the target was a picture of Jesus. A hush fell over the room as each student viewed the mangled image of their Savior – holes and jagged marks covered his face. His eyes were virtually pierced out.
Professor Smith said only these words, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Lee Rhodes, Wheeler, Michigan)
Tell me. Do you think throwing darts of bitterness, criticism, and gossip is worthy of our dear Savior’s love? I don’t think so. The Bible says, “Let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ.”
Well, what does that mean, exactly? What does that look like in our relationships with one another? Look again at verse 27
Philippians 1:27 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel… (ESV)