Summary: Philippians - Manual of Joy Living a Life Worthy of the Gospel of Christ
Philippians - Manual of Joy
Living a Life Worthy of the Gospel of Christ
Paul is concerned about unity because it is a blemish to the glory of God and hinders the mission of God. Most, if not all of us at, have had grievances with the church. Some of us even had legitimate reasons for those grievances. I want to let you in on a little secret. As long as there are imperfect people, there will be an imperfect church just like there are imperfect marriages and imperfect families. The church at Philippi dealt with the same issues as we do today, the biggest being self-centeredness. Today we see Paul telling us that living life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ builds unity and that unity starts with me.
Main idea: Paul tells the Philippians church to make his joy complete by living a life worthy of the gospel, which he defines as being bold in the gospel and being united together as a body.
Paul has said that even though he would rather depart to be with Christ he will seek their best interest and stay for their progress and joy in the faith. He then described their progress and joy in the faith as living a manner of life worthy of the gospel of Christ. Their progress and joy in the faith is found in their living not for themselves but living for the best interests of others. This is a process of inner transformation that comes through treasuring Christ. Or as Paul says elsewhere, ‘we beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.’ This is why our mission statement says, as a worshipping community, we seek to transform lives by winning people to Jesus Christ, training them to be followers of Christ and sending for local and global impact. In short, we seek to win, train, and send. It is being God centered and gospel centered.
1. Gospel Centered Means be United Together (vs. 27—2:2)
Living life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ means to be united together as a community and united together in mission. Unity only built by a common vision.
United as a community
Paul tells the Philippian church to stand firm in one spirit or as one person. The word translated as standing firm is used of soldiers refusing to leave their position no matter how difficult the battle gets. A good solider does not abandon his post or his unit. Paul is telling the church to stand firm together no matter what comes against you. The same word is used later in 4:3, ‘stand firm in the Lord.’ The Lord is the source of strength to stand firm. It is drinking from Jesus, the fountain of life, for the spiritual resources, energy, grace, power of the Spirit, to be united together as a community. They needed to stand firm as one person, together as a community, against the opponents they were facing.
United in mission
Paul continues on, saying ‘with one mind, striving side by side for the faith of the gospel.’ He is saying that it is work to be united as a community in mission. Unity reflects the character of God and the work of God in us and makes the mission of God more effective. The effectiveness of the gospel, the mission of God rises or falls on the unity of the body. That is no trivial matter. Paul is saying that the success of the gospel is contingent upon our striving together. The effectiveness of our witness is contingent upon our being united together. I am not just talking about coming to church on Sundays or seeing the church as a social club that is good for me and for my family. I am talking about the people of God being fueled by a passion for God, sustained by the people of God and directed by the mission of God.
Paul plays the same tune in 2:1-2. Paul’s point is that his joy increases as the unity of the church increases. He points to three resources that we all have common because of our union with Christ: our encouragement in Christ, our comfort from the love of God, and our participation in the Spirit. We see the triune God working in unity: to encourage us, to love us, and to unite us. Christ encourages us so we in turn can encourage each other; God pours his love into our hearts so we can love each other and we experience intimacy with God by participation with Spirit so we can experience intimacy with each other. He is telling the Philippians and telling us to put aside all our own preferences and be united together around the gospel, the mission of God. Look for what is best for the body, not our own preferences. This is no little concern for Paul because it is a blemish on God. When we are not united, we do not shine like stars in the universe and so God does not look good.