Summary: Paul was NOT suggesting that these believers neglect their earthly citizenship. Paul’s challenge to them was that they recognize the unique relationship they had with God and the work of the Kingdom.
Date Written: January 17, 2001
Date Preached: January 17, 2001
Church: BBC (PM) Wed Night
Series: Great Imperatives for the Christian Walk
Title: The Imperative of Our Christian Citizenship
Text: Phil 1:27-30
Paul shares many thrilling truths in his letter to the church in Philippi. The church in Philippi was one of Paul’s favorites. The letter he writes to the church in Philippi is a letter of gratitude and thanksgiving and it reveals his feelings about the congregation at Philippi! Paul cared deeply about this fellowship, but they also cared deeply about the Apostle Paul.
There are many references about this fellowship’s love and support of the apostle and his ministry. So it is with great love for them that he wrote this letter. He gave them some imperatives to direct their Christian walk, and the imperatives he gave to them apply to us today!
Philippi was a colony city of the Roman Empire. The citizens of Philippi enjoyed the same legal rights as those citizens who lived in Rome. To live in Philippi made one a citizen of the Roman Empire.
However, Paul reminded these fellow believers (on at least 2 occasions 1:27 and 3:20) that their true citizenship was not here on this earth, but in the heavenly realm, their true citizenship lay in heaven!
Let me straighten out something that many people confuse when they hear something like this. Paul was NOT suggesting that these believers neglect their earthly citizenship.
Paul’s challenge to them was that they recognize the unique relationship they had with God and the work of the Kingdom.
They were to live in that pagan city of Philippi, run and ruled by the pagan Emperor of Rome as citizens of the holy and higher kingdom of God. In other words, regardless of who was running the show here on earth, they were to remember who they ultimately belonged to and that is God!
As he comes to the close of this letter, Paul sends a greeting to the saints in Caesar’s household. This possibly served as a challenge to the believers in Philippi to be devoted and faithful followers and servants of Jesus Christ. Because if someone could live for Jesus and live in the very house of the most pagan man on earth (the Emperor of Rome who thought he was a god)…then surely the Christians in Philippi could live a faithful and devoted life for Jesus.
This concept transcends just the Christians in Philippi, it transcends time all the way to the year 2001 and the Christians in Lafitte, LA, the Christians in LA, the Christians in the USA, the Christians in the world today. IF they could live for Christ in Caesar’s house, we can live for Christ in the situation we are living in today.
Our response to God will always take on a different form because we all have different pressures and needs that we will encounter in our lives.
But I find it very interesting to note the manner in which Paul hoped his readers would conduct themselves as citizens of the Kingdom of God.
From this passage tonight I can see Paul prayerfully requiring these Christians to take action in their walk with Christ. I can see 4 specific actions that he wanted them to take:
He wanted them to stand firm in one spirit and one mind (v.27)
He wanted them to strive together in a united effort (
He wanted them to stand firm against opposition
He wanted them to be willing to suffer for the sake of Christ (v.29)
Paul was not just a talker, he led by example. All of the things he was asking the church in Philippi and ultimately asking us to do were things he had done and was willing to do again and again for the sake of Christ!
He wanted them to stand firm in one spirit and with one mind:[v.27]
“…Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel…”
The threat of division or disunity has always been present in the church. Just as churches today suffer from divisions and disunity that fracture and split their fellowships…the churches of the 1st century had the same situations.
What Paul wanted them to recognize and what I want us to recognize is that one mind and one spirit is difficult to obtain. There are many roadblocks and problems that hinder a fellowship of believers from a united front (one mind, one spirit)
Immaturity in the fellowship can and does cause disunity. Immaturity can be handled, but only with mature Christians who understand the mission of Christ and who do so with love and compassion for that one being immature in their actions.