Summary: God is no longer looking for stone memorials that were lifted up in the Old Covenant. He wants living stones as a holy nation of priests lifting up holy lives as a memorial to His greatness.
Intro: A man came to the Baptist Church and asked to see the pastor. “Pastor,” he said, “My dog died and I would like a Christian burial for him.”
The Pastor said, “I’m sorry to hear about your dog, but we Baptists don’t do funerals for dogs. You might try the Methodist church down the street. Methodists will do most anything.”
The man turned sadly and said, “I’m sorry you won’t do my dog’s funeral, but I understand. I’ll try the Methodist church. But would you tell me how much is appropriate to leave for a memorial for the church? I was thinking of giving a $10,000 memorial in honor of my dog.”
“Wait a minute,” the pastor said. “You didn’t tell me that your dog was Baptist…”
Monday is Memorial Day. Throughout the Bible the people of Israel and the church were encouraged to raise memorials. In Joshua they were memorial stones our modern day equivalent would be the WWI, WWII, and Vietnam War memorials. In the New Testament we are told every time we take part in the Lord’s Supper we do it in remembrance of our Lord Jesus or a memorial to Him. A Synonym for memorial is honor. Human beings have been historically bad at honoring God.
Romans 1:21 “even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.”
What type of memorial does God want from us? He no longer wants stone monuments He now wants living stone memorials. 1 Peter 2:5 as living stones we are to be the memorials that are lifted up to Jesus. Here in Philippians 1:27-30 Paul tells us exactly how we can be that living memorial.
I. Your conduct should be a memorial to Jesus
Paul begins by saying, “Just one thing.” The Greek word monon means alone or only. Paul was telling the Philippians this one thing is essential as a believer. Live your life worthy of the Gospel.
Paul used the Greek word politeou which is still with us today in police, politics, and metropolis. This would have made a clear point to the Philippians. Philippi was a Roman colony, a little Rome, because soldiers that were loyal to Antony settled there after the civil war between Antony and Octavian. They believed they were Roman representatives to a culture that was mostly Greek. You could translate the word Paul used as citizen. The Philippians believer’s citizenship was now in heaven. Even though the Philippians were 800 miles from Rome they were not governed by any regional authority they answered directly to Rome. They lived differently because they were citizens of a different country.
As newsman Clarence W. Hall followed American troops through Okinawa in 1945, he and his jeep driver came upon a small town that stood out as a beautiful example of a Christian community. He wrote, “We had seen other Okinawan villages... down at the heels and despairing; by contrast, this one shone like a diamond in a dung heap. Everywhere we were greeted by smiles and dignified bows. Proudly the old men showed us their spotless homes, their terraced fields... their storehouses and granaries, their prized sugar mill.”
Hall said that he saw no jails and no drunkenness, and that divorce was unknown in this village. He was told that an American missionary had come there some 30 years earlier. While he was in the village, he had led two elderly townspeople to Christ and left them with a Japanese Bible. These new believers studied the Scriptures and started leading their fellow villagers to Jesus. Hall’s jeep driver said he was amazed at the difference between this village and the others around it. He remarked, “So this is what comes out of only a Bible and a couple of old guys who wanted to live like Jesus.”
Meanwhile, live in such a way that you are a credit to the Message of Christ (Message of Phil 1.27)
II. Your consistency should a memorial to Jesus
Paul wanted the Philippian believers to live a consistently Christian life whether he was present or not. He used the Greek word steko which is translated stand firm. It was used of a soldier who would stand firm and hold their ground even in the face of powerful enemy attack.
The only way to be consistent in our conduct is to be consistent in our fellowship with Jesus.
What is consistency or integrity? Letting your yes be yes and your no be no. You do what you say you will do. You are what you say you are. Jesus was clear that our consistency is measured by our actions and not by our words. It is our consistent character that is kindled in the Holy fire of the presence of Jesus.