Summary: How do we remain faithful and bold for Christ in the face of opposition?
“The world is not interested in an anemic, spineless Christianity. They are impacted by courageous Christians.” - Grant Richison
Paul was an example of uncommon courage wherever he was called by God to be (even in a prison cell). Now he encourages the Philippians to be an example of uncommon courage where they were called to be.
Paul gives three directives to the Philippians that were designed to encourage them to be bold for Christ, even when they faced resistance or rejection for sharing the Gospel.
1. Reflect on the story of the Gospel - v. 27a
The gospel is the declaration of how God has made it possible for men to obtain the forgiveness of their sins and the assurance of eternal life. The gospel is also a new and higher standard of conduct for Christians that we are commanded to live up to. Paul challenged the Philippians to make sure that their lives were lived in a manner worthy of the Gospel. What impact can the story of the Gospel have on the how we conduct ourselves in the face of opposition?
A. Christ was sent on redemptive mission by the Father.
I, too, am sent on redemptive mission.
“As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.‟” - John 20:21 (NIV)
This means my life has an eternal purpose, God has a plan for me. As I surrender to His will, everything in my life takes on eternal significance. Even suffering. Even persecution.
B. Christ suffered the penalty for sin for our sake.
As I live on redemptive mission, any sacrifice made, and effort put forth, any price paid to share the Good News will be worthwhile because there will those who experience life as a result. As Jesus said in the parable of the sower, there may be hard soil, there may be rocky soil, there may be weed infested soil, but there will also be good soil!
“So we live in the face of death, but this has resulted in eternal life for you.” - 2 Corinthians 4:12 (NLT)
C. Christ showed His victory over sin by rising from the dead.
We can remain faithful despite opposition because the power to win the victory does not depend on us, but on the One who we represent! Ultimate victory is ours, no matter what other might do to us! Just as the Father came through for Jesus, the risen Christ will come through for us! As Paul says earlier in this very epistle (Philippians 1:21), “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” The writer of Hebrews put it this way:
“So we say with confidence, „The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?‟” - Hebrews 13:6 (NIV)
“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” - Matthew 10:28 (NIV)
Ironically, whenever we face rejection or persecution for sharing the Gospel, the one who should be afraid is not us, but the one who is opposing us. We have nothing to fear from God, but they, on the other hand, definitely do.
D. Christ now saves all who come to Him by faith.
Christ saved us when we chose to place our faith and trust in Him; and just as He saved us, He can save others. Therefore, it is worth the possibility of facing rejection; of facing persecution, for sharing the Good News. It is worth it because of those who choose to say, “yes” to Christ.
“One day, when Vice-President Calvin Coolidge was presiding over the Senate, one senator angrily told another to go “straight to hell.” The offended Senator complained to Coolidge as presiding officer, and Coolidge looked up from the book he had been leafing through while listening to the debate and wittily replied. “I’ve looked through the rule book,” he said, “You don’t have to go.”
When we face opposition, rejection, or persecution for the sake of the Gospel, we can be encouraged as we reflect on the fact that no matter how extreme the rejection of the Gospel might be, even if that opposition costs us our lives, the worst that can happen to us is that we go to heaven. But the reason we should remain faithful to share the Good News despite the opposition is that others can go to heaven, too.
2. Remember the priority of the Gospel - vs. 27b-28
The word “frightened” means to be startled. Paul tells us that we should not be surprised if there are those who oppose us in our work of sharing the Good News. Instead, we should be resolved, all the more, to remained focused on the task of fulfilling the Great Commission.