Summary: An expository message
1:19 Yes, & I shall rejoice. For I know that through your prayers & the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, 1:20 as it is my eager expectation & hope that I shall not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. 1:21 For to me to live is Christ, & to die is gain. 1:22 If it is to be life in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. 1:23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart & be with Christ, for that is far better. 1:24 But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. 1:25 Convinced of this, I know that I shall remain & continue with you all, for your progress & joy in the faith, 1:26 so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again. 1:27 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come & see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you stand firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, 1:28 & not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear omen to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, & that from God. 1:29 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, 1:30 engaged in the same conflict which you saw & now hear to be mine.
There was a seamstress, a member of the Dexter Ave. Baptist church, a devoted Christ follower, who believed that Jesus had something to teach a segregated world about love, justice & community. One morning in December of 1955, a bus driver told her she must vacate her seat & move to the back of the bus because she was an African American & a white person needed the seat. In one of the most courageous choices of the 20th century, she didn’t move. And she started a revolution. The next Monday night 10,000 followers of Christ gathered together at her church to pray & to ask God, "What do we do next?"
Because of that choice, a revolution started that wasn’t easy; it had a high cost; many were beaten; many were imprisoned; some even died. But it changed the conscience of a nation. It didn’t change it enough, but it changed it. All because a mild-mannered, soft-spoken, Christian seamstress had the courage to sit in the front of the bus with dignity.
The expounders of many of the great new ideas of history were frequently considered on the lunatic fringe for some or all of their lives. If one stands up & is counted, from time to time one may get knocked down. But remember this: a man flattened by an opponent can get up again. A man flattened by conformity stays down for good. (Thomas J. Watson, Jr., Chairman of Board, IBM)
Last week we learned from Paul How to find joy in the midst of difficult & heavy circumstances. The secret is to live for a noble cause that is higher than one’s own self. Also, the secret is to remember that God loves us & is in control of all that happens to us.