Living Worthy of the Gospel of Jesus (40 Days of Easter Truth #1)
Easter Focus Passage: Philippians 1:27-30
27 Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel
28 without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God.
29 For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him,
30 since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.
Easter Truth – DAY ONE:
Many Christians in first world countries such as America do not have an accurate view of what it means to live worthy of the Gospel. Our idea of “living worthy” is often based on how big our churches are, how attractive our music is, or how innovative our presentation of certain Scripture is. We know very little about persecution or suffering. We tend to give up at the first sign of opposition instead of persevering and standing up for truth. We cover our eyes, block our ears, and hide our head in the sand to avoid a world that is rushing farther away from God and inches away from hell.
In this passage, the Apostle Paul encourages Christians to live worthy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We do this in several ways: by standing strong for the truth of Christ, by persevering to the end, by working together in unity, by embracing courage instead of fear, and by suffering well. The truth of Jesus is not something we espouse just at church or when we’re around a group of Christians, but it is something we live out each and every day.
Living worthy of the Gospel of Jesus does not mean we will be perfect. No one can live out the Gospel perfectly. But it does mean we are to live as men and women who have been bought by the blood of Jesus Christ, redeemed from our sins, and have His victory and overcoming power in our lives. Jesus and His sacrificial death on the cross are worthy of us living this way. Jesus is worthy of our denying ourselves, taking up our cross, and following Him. He is worthy of us standing strong, persevering, working together, being courageous, and suffering well.
Living worthy of the Gospel of Jesus means we represent Him in everything we say, everything we do, and everything we think. How we treat others, how we love others, how we serve others should reflect the grace and the Gospel of Christ. Perseverance is the steady persistence in what we believe and how we express those beliefs no matter how difficult it seems or what kind of opposition we face. God often allows us to encounter difficult situations so He can see if we really trust Him and believe in Him no matter the cost.
To persevere in the faith and be willing to work together with other people of like mind requires courage. There are probably more fearful Christians than courageous ones. Fear does not come from God; it is an inner emotion that often keeps us back from living out the Gospel of Christ. When we choose to embrace courage instead of fear it is proof that we are trusting God and His sovereign will to work in, through, and for our lives. You will make some enemies by the mere fact that You are a follower of Christ. But that doesn’t matter. Jesus made enemies too. Nonetheless, He was bold about who He was, about His purpose in coming to earth, and about His desire to redeem mankind to Himself. We should do likewise.
Living worthy of the Gospel of Jesus means that we learn to suffer well. Many of us know very little about real suffering. At the first sign of a little discomfort, we’re off to the hospital or the pharmacy or to a counselor. But God allows suffering because it is the one of the key ways for us to grow and become more like Him, sensitive to His voice, and willing to serve others. Suffering is a gift. Jesus suffered for us and it is only justified that we suffer for Him in order to become more like Him. Salvation does not exempt us from suffering; in fact, it ensures that we will experience it.
Jewish psychologist and Holocaust survivor, Viktor Frankl, endured much suffering in one of the concentration camps during World War II. While there, he observed his fellow prisoners and divided them into two groups of people. The first group who couldn’t find meaning in suffering eventually lost hope, lived in denial of their situation and died. But the second group who found meaning in suffering found hope, accepted their situation as it was, and survived. Frankl came to the conclusion that even in the most painful situations, suffering holds meaning for all of us. Frankl said, “What is to give light must endure burning.”
So it is with us. Not only must we stand strong in our faith, but we must persevere. We must be willing to work in unity. We must be courageous and not yield to fear. And we must learn to find meaning in suffering and to suffer well. This is what it means to live worthy of the Gospel of Jesus. We are not worthy of His grace, but He is worthy of our lives.
Lord, we thank You for Your life, death, burial, and resurrection. We are not worthy of You, but You are worthy of every inch of our lives. Help us to stand strong, to persevere, to work in unity, to be courageous, and to suffer well. In Jesus’ name. Amen.