Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. 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, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have. - Philippians 1: 27-30 (ESV)
This country stops once a year to be thankful for what they have. Thankful for what they have been blessed with. As the culture has moved further away from God we see this thankfulness become more generic and less about thanking God but for the church, we are supposed to be living a lifestyle of thanksgiving. Our posture towards God is supposed to be continually thankful. The cross alone should compel us to this. If God does nothing else for me, Calvary is enough. As we come to this year's Thanksgiving holiday however we find the church severely fractured and divided over carnal politics. It is time for us to reflect upon this and find our thankfulness within the Word of God, which will always provide us with the direction and correction we need.
The world is divided. It is constantly at odds with each other over matters which have no eternal value. They do so because they do not consider eternal matters. The things of God are foolishness to them. Think of the utter intellectual disconnect of holding an agnostic position. That you acknowledge the probable existence of a Creator but do not care to discover what He wants from His creation. Their minds are darkened. Their hearts are stone. They are fleshly focused on the carnality that this world brings to their lives and in this country with the myriad of distractions that come with the pursuit of material prosperity. While we see this reality as the church what we fail to see is that the bride of Christ is rapidly devolving into this condition as well.
Election 2016 in this country has revealed the darkness in many hearts within the church. In the efforts of appearing balanced this has always been approached from a non-partisan position but that has proven to be a disservice because it has avoided the more uncomfortable truth. That truth is we are primarily talking about Christians who have seemingly abandoned their Lord and Savior for their new messiah, Donald Trump. I understand that may sound harsh but we are not called to shrink from the truth. Please keep in mind this has nothing to do with who we voted for or who we would have preferred to win the election. There were no Christians defending Hillary Clinton as the choice of Jesus Christ. There were no Christians comparing Hillary Clinton to a new Elijah, King Cyrus, or the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies. All of those descriptors however have been proffered and supported in relation to Donald Trump. So the issue is not who should have won but rather who we are supposed to be as the church. Are we supposed to be representing a man who is clearly the embodiment of evil, as being righteous in any manner or form? That question does not confer any righteousness upon his opponent either but she is no longer relevant because she lost and was never defended by the church. Her evil nature was correctly discerned by the church. His was ignored or even worse, made into somehow being the choice of God. Beloved, God might use evil for His won glory and plan but He does not orchestrate it. I had held out hope that now that these wayward brothers and sisters achieved their desired electoral goal that they would come back home to the body and to their commitment to the Gospel. Sadly, it appears I may be mistaken. The post-election victory lap currently underway by Christo-Trumpers has furthered the divide within the body of Christ in an increasingly mean-spirited and ugly way. Yet what did Christ command us?
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." - John 13: 34-35 (ESV)
Beloved we have a responsibility beyond ourselves. When we accepted the free gift of salvation we were supposed to pick up our cross and follow Him. That means kingdom matters are what we need to have in the forefront our minds. We are supposed to be about the Father's business not fighting for our own carnal vision of what might be better for this country or this world. We already know what is needed. It is called the Gospel. Why in the world would anyone unsaved listen to a person who constantly fights, demeans, and lies about their own brothers and sisters to support their chosen political evil? We are witnesses for Christ! We are supposed to be ambassadors for Christ! Not for Trump! Stop mixing the profane and the holy! Do not pretend that God has told you that the choice between Trump and Clinton is the same as the choice between Jesus and Barabbas (yes that actually happened). That is utter blasphemy. I say these things out of love for my brothers and sisters who have wandered off and away from Christ to pursue this electoral carnality. There is a difference between praying for our leaders as the Bible commands and supporting them as being representative of our faith and beliefs. The world is watching and what are you showing them? So I am thankful that as I reflected upon this and the upcoming holiday, I can always turn to God's Word for answers. As we turn then to the key verses today will you listen to what God has to say? Or will you continue to traffic in the immoral morass of earthly politics?
Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ,
God does not mince words beloved. This is the question for all of us today. Are we living lives worthy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ? This should be a probing question that we take very seriously. I know I often fall short. Let's break this down so we understand what is at stake. What is the Gospel?
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. - Romans 1: 16 (ESV)
The Gospel is the only power of God unto the salvation of man. No one gets saved without it. It is the vehicle through which the Spirit draws man. So when we ask if we are living a life worthy; this is what we are measuring against. This is what is at stake. The eternal destination of the souls of man. For our unsaved family members. For our unsaved friends. For our unsaved co-workers. For the lost and distant faces we come across every single day that are staring at an eternity separated from God without the Gospel that our lives are supposed to worthy of. That is an awesome and awe-inspiring thought that should make us shake off any carnality and politics. Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, the GOP, the Dems, conservatism, liberalism - all of it - is just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. The worst part is we already know the ship is going down but we continue to argue over absolute temporal minutia while we withhold the only thing that has the power to save them. God continues:
so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit,
Standing firm in one Spirit. Wow. We talk a good game about unity but overlook that the indwelt Holy Spirit within us should bind us. Jesus said who is our mother and brother except he who does the will of the Father. Doctrine is what binds us. We have seen since the election believers express their confusion about how the Holy Spirit can be divided? How can one person be praying for Donald Trump to win the election and another believer be praying against it? The answer is simple. Both are wrong and the Bible assures us of this:
For it has been reported to me by Chloe's people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. What I mean is that each one of you says, "I follow Paul," or "I follow Apollos," or "I follow Cephas," or "I follow Christ." Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? - 1Corinthians 1: 11-13 (ESV)
While it is not exactly the same comparison the question can still be asked. Is Christ divided? Some say I follow Trump. Others say I followed Clinton. Still others say we should only follow Christ. The latter is the right answer beloved. We should not allow carnal matters and carnal people to divide us from following Christ. That is what Paul is saying here. Our unity may start with the shared Spirit but the result is a unified mind:
with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents.