Philippians 2 & II Thessalonians 2
With Pastor Steve away, Rob Williamson preached, carrying on the Philippians series with 1:27-30. He said that we have to learn that Christianity doesn’t come naturally, but is a journey that requires practice; it is a lifestyle. Thus, Paul’s advice in verse 27 to conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel.
“Paul says we are to be citizens of heaven,” Rob said. “That doesn’t mean (our actions) don’t have anything to do with the way we live now. We are to conduct ourselves worthy of heaven, but also where we live. Jesus said, ‘Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.’”
Yet, we also must realize the things we do on this earth are only temporary. Referring to a coworker who started a Facebook page that launched a non-profit group to support Ashland, Rob said one day the streets of Ashland won’t be there. He talked about how the Storehouse is building something for eternity by ministering to the needy in Christ’s name. Lifting up His name is something that comes out of embracing heavenly values.
Living fearlessly, with faith in God, is what shows we are citizens of heaven. That comes both from a belief in Jesus and our connection with each other. Jumping ahead to Philippians 2:3-7, Rob read how we are to do nothing from selfish ambition and questioned whether things done for self ever satisfy. No, Rob answered, recalling the time he took a group of youth to an Indian reservation and how rewarding it felt to empty themselves in service to others.
“Things done for self will never fulfill,” Rob said. “We’re drinking from the wrong source. These are the things of human nature. These are the things that God is saving us from. Consider others better than yourself. If we can grasp ahold of that, life will be gravy.”
Indeed, the only way we can enjoy a spirit of unity as a body is when we have this kind of selfless humility, he said, which takes time and work. When we link arms with our brothers and sisters we should know God is behind that. Living fearlessly will come from this kind of support. When we can live without being afraid of people or circumstances, God chooses to shine His glory through us.
Yet, this often means suffering as we do His work. Rob referred to Philippians 1:29 and its message that suffering has been granted to Christ’s followers on His behalf. Put another way, he said Paul is saying, “I love you so much I’m going to punch you in the face.” While admitting he doesn’t see suffering that way, God does, and Paul wants us to see the gift suffering is to our faith.
The reason we should consider this a gift is because the way we conduct ourselves in the face of injustice or persecution is what gives God glory. Suffering and faith are the two gifts that are the sign of fearlessness and unity. One possible reason for this nation’s current conflict and disagreements over Christianity is because He wants to show His glory by the way His followers conduct themselves.
“This is a process in which you trust God and He wins,” Rob said. “He gave us the gifts of faith and suffering. He’s getting the glory…I’m thankful there is suffering.”