By: Jay Forth
Readings: Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18; Philippians 3:17–4:1; Luke 13:31-35; Psalm 27 (5)
“Brothers and sisters, join in imitating me, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us. For many live as enemies of the cross of Christ; I have often told you of them, and now I tell you even with tears. Their end is destruction; their god is the belly; and their glory is in their shame; their minds are set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will transform the body of our humiliation so that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, by the power that also enables him to make all things subject to himself. Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved.”
“For many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.” Paul reminds his audience in Philippi what they probably know all too well, that there many who live contrary to the Gospel. Who are these “enemies of the cross”? Maybe Paul was referring to local officials; maybe he was referring to the general population at Philippi; or, maybe he was referring to certain people within the congregation. Even though it is not clear who Paul has in mind as “enemies of the cross,” I believe his words give important counsel for us today.
When surrounded by injustice, greed, and selfishness, how can Christians remain faithful? Paul encourages the church at Philippi to observe and imitate examples of faithfulness. In our own difficult time, we, too, can find resources for resilience by identifying the individuals, communities, and movements that exhibit the life to which we have been called in Christ. By identifying these examples, we create for ourselves a lineage of resistance. A lineage from which we can learn from the prayers, tactics, triumphs, and failures those who exhibited Christian faithfulness in the midst of unjust and challenging times. By meditating on a lineage of resistance, we can gain the wisdom and the strength to live faithfully in our own day.
Loving God, turn our eyes to your faithful ones, past and present. Help us learn from their deeds, to grow from their wisdom, to imitate their faithfulness. Drawing on the riches of their lives, may we discern how to follow Christ in the face of today’s challenges. Amen.