Summary: Gentleness, prayer, working through conflict and rejoicing are a few of the ways to live as citizens of God's kingdom.
Examples of Kingdom Living
Phil 4:1-7 Feb 20, 2011
(Brian McLauren, “Jesus and the Kingdom”, video V00248, http://www.theworkofthepeople.com/index.php?ct=store.details&pid=V00248)
Living as citizens of the Kingdom of God really is a different way of living from that of the dominant culture around us. We’ve been seeing that in the book of Philippians, and this morning in chapter 4 we see more examples of what that looks like.
Phil 4:1-7 (NIV)
1 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends!
2 I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. 3 Yes, and I ask you, my true companion, help these women since they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Example #1: “stand firm” (vs. 1)
Chapter 4 begins with more of the deeply affectionate language with which Paul addresses his friends in Philippi, “whom I love and long for, my joy and crown,… dear friends…”, and right in the middle are these two little words, “stand firm”. Most of us in the last week or two have had to walk across an icy sidewalk – we know that feeling of not being on solid ground, of the danger of falling, of having to grasp an arm or a fence or a railing, or of trying to shuffle around as best we can without ending up on our butts. That is life in a winter city like Edmonton. But it is not life in the Kingdom of God, where we are not on icy, slippery ground but instead we stand on the truth that we are loved, forgiven, and accepted in Christ. That is why Paul says, “stand firm in the Lord”. That is a strong foundation. That is a solid rock. That is a place where we can plant our feet, firm, unmoving, unshakable – in the Lord. Because Jesus isn’t going to move. Jesus isn’t going to pull the rug out from underneath us. And so when the things of life come against us and try to push us around, we can stand firm because we know to whom we belong, we know we are loved and saved, our identity is rooted in Jesus, and we with joy serve Him and His Kingdom.
How different is that than the world around us! Always searching for the next thing to make us feel pleasure, always jumping around to find the next thing that might work, always ditching something old for the latest newest thing. The Kingdom of God is rooted, and “stands firm”.
Example #2: working through conflict (vs. 2-3)
The second example of Kingdom living is in verses 2-3. It is obviously specific to the church at Philippi, and some conflict between two women who were most likely leaders in the church, and Paul commands them to work it out and be united once again. As I thought about this as an example of living in the Kingdom of God, I came to realize how radically different that really is from our present culture of disposable relationships. Today, what do you think would happen if there was a similar conflict in many churches? How about friendships? How about families even?? I think that most times, our love is so shallow that we tend to just ditch relationships in conflict and walk away. But such is not the way of the Kingdom of God. In God’s Kingdom, the work of communication, understanding, compassion, letting go of pride, putting others ahead of ourselves – all the skills of healthy relationships are present and lived out. If you are in a situation of conflict, heed Paul’s words pleading for reconciliation.
Example #3: Rejoice (vs. 4)
A couple weeks ago we talked about this idea of “rejoicing”, and did a little exercise that demonstrated how “rejoicing” even in the midst of difficulty is powerful and “safeguards our faith”. Paul comes back to that here in this repetition of the command to rejoice. And again, we have this phrase “in the Lord”. The kingdom of this world schools us in seeing the world and our lives in the negative – the problems, the crimes, the tragedies, the struggles, the pain, the things that don’t go our way, the things we don’t have. Our culture has perfected the complaint, the ability to see the negative, cynicism and sarcasm abound. But the Kingdom of God is different – we are to be characterized by “rejoicing in the Lord”. The difference is mostly in where we locate our understanding of life, and again the phrase “in the Lord” is the key: are we focused on the problems which are everywhere? We won’t be rejoicing. But if we locate our understanding of life in the Lord, we see life through Jesus’ eyes, we see God at work, we see God with us in it all, and then we will rejoice.