- Lesson 4 in the BaptistWay Press Connect360 unit “Pure Joy” focuses on Philippians 1:27-30.
Paul reminds the Philippians that the privilege of believing in Christ is also connected with the privilege of “suffering for his sake” (1:29). Paul knows well the promise of suffering can discourage those of faithless hearts. Only those whose relationship with the Lord is grounded in surrender can join him in the challenges faced in everyday living in a Roman colony. The Philippian believers likely did not fit in a society charged with exemplifying the ideals of Rome rather than the values of the kingdom of God. However, Paul knows this flock is grounded in the faith founded on Christ.
Nevertheless, those who desire the fullness of Christ’s presence know suffering affords a unique glimpse into the mind of Christ. Such a glimpse, filled with patience from the experience of knowing Jesus intimately, yields greatest benefits to one’s character and destiny. Suffering gives the believer ownership of an experience of working alongside Christ in deepest intimacy.
Paul reminds these Philippians they have witnessed his suffering for Christ. He dealt with opposition when he was in Philippi and set a slave girl free from a demon (Acts 16:16-18). Her owners resented his interference. The subsequent uproar in town landed Paul in prison where he was mistreated (Acts 16:22-24). Moreover, Paul also writes from his present experience of hurt and the uncertainties of imprisonment. Nevertheless, Paul, though he had almost nothing materially, overflows with joy-filled intimacy with Christ and visions of everlasting salvation.
Living as citizens of God’s kingdom
Paul focused his loving efforts on preparing the Philippians for the future. His heart went out to them even as he likely winced at the conditions of his Roman prison. His attention was fixed on Christ and the betterment of the church members, his friends. His chief desire was his friends in the faith would not compromise but show everyone that their faith was firmly planted in the gospel of Christ. He encouraged his friends to live as citizens of God’s kingdom.
Believers have higher privileges of being citizens in God’s own kingdom. Though conflict and opponents were on the rise, they were to live their lives morally, emotionally and spiritually as the citizens they were. They were to hold onto the rock-solid truths of the gospel and choose resolute faith and refuse every fear. They will be the church, and we today will be the churches who prove to the world that the gospel of Christ is the source of pure love and powerful faith. Today, let’s think how we can show Christ in our church and in our everyday lives in very practical ways, so people start wondering what makes life different as a believer. Imagine the power of a life faithful in the small things. Our communities will see the power of Christ in his people and will never be the same again.
Compiled by Stan Granberry, marketing coordinator for BaptistWay Press.
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