For the past 2 articles, I have focused on Philippians chapter 2 while looking at a genuine Christian. Now, I want to take a step backwards, to chapter 1 again and look at the last paragraph, which Paul uses to explain some important truths about a real Christian. Unfortunately, in our day and age, the Gospel is presented as something beneficial that a person adds to his already extremely busy lifestyle. The Gospel is just a part of many “Christians'” lives instead of their “way of life”. Do you find yourself in this category, living from Sunday to Sunday (barely finding time for spiritual things once a week)? This article will help end that problem, if the truth of Philippians 1 is applied on a daily (moment by moment) basis.
I heard of a great diet, you meet one day a week for one hour and eat a small piece of bread and drink a small glass of water and that is it for the entire week. Who is ready to sign up for this diet? Do you know that many churchgoers already are on this diet and have been for years (in a spiritual sense)? How many churchgoers are fed (spiritually speaking) from the Word of God only one time a week (and it is food that has been chewed and spoon fed to them by another person) and then that is it until the next Sunday morning (that is, if they are regular church attenders)? Your body needs about 2,000 calories a day to survive and if those calories are not ingested then the body turns on itself for fuel. If you maintain a drastic reduction of calories over an extended period of time, then the body will consume itself. Have you ever seen pics of the concentration camp survivors? God created our physical bodies and its needs to be a physical explanation of our spiritual aspect. Jesus said that “man does not live on bread alone, but, on every Word that comes from the mouth of God”. Are you an anorexic in the spiritual aspect of your life? Do you “consume” 2,000 words from the Word a day? My prayer is that all churchgoers would have a “weight epidemic” in a spiritual sense because we gorge ourselves daily on the Word of God. Paul teaches us how to do it.
I. A genuine Christian lives for Christ by serving the people around him. According to the word of God, Christianity is not just a part of your life, it is your way of life.
21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. (Philippians 1)
It gets down into your bones. In fact, Paul uses a great example to explain this concept in another of his letters, one to the Church in Corinth. He says that a genuine Christian is a fragrant aroma of the knowledge of Jesus Christ. Have you ever been sitting in a room full of people and all of a sudden someone with really good smelling perfume or cologne walks by? Immediately, you take notice of that person, right? That is what a genuine Christian is like. He lives every moment of every day for Jesus Christ and because of this, everyone who sees him, ends up seeing Jesus Christ in him. Is this the way that you live your life as a Christian or are you just a churchgoer?
22 But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. 23 But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better ; 24 yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that your proud confidence in me may abound in Christ Jesus through my coming to you again. (Philippians 1)
Living for Christ is seen practically through the fact that you live to serve others and not your own selfish desires. Paul poured out his life into the process of making disciples. That is the calling that Jesus Christ gives to every one of His followers (Christians). For Paul, it would have been much easier to die and enter the actual presence of Jesus Christ than to continue on suffering for the Gospel. If you have ever studied Paul’s life and all the suffering that he encountered then you would know exactly why he wrote what he wrote here in Philippians 1. Yet, he rejoices because he lives, not for the joy of life itself, he rejoices over the fact that as he lives, Christ lives through him and he (Paul) will serve the Philippians so that they will grow in their faith. This is a very different lifestyle than the lifestyle of a “churchgoer”. Most churchgoers attend church because of what they “get out of it”. It is not bad to attend and get something out of the service but if you think that is all that the Christian life is then you are living an anorexic spiritual life and there needs to be a change. Do you seek to make disciples? Is your lifestyle built around the process of making disciples? If not then why not? The marching orders that Christ left for all Christians is to take the Word of God and invest It in others through the process of discipleship. When you build your lifestyle around making disciples then you become a fragrant aroma of the knowledge of Jesus Christ.
II. A genuine Christian lives in a manner worthy of the Gospel. His lifestyle is a reflection of the power of the Gospel, of what the Gospel can do to a person’s life.
27 Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel ; 28 in no way alarmed by your opponents -which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God. 29 For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, 30 experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me. (Philippians 1)
A genuine Christian does not receive the Gospel and then continue on living his life the same way that he did before. The Gospel is all about lifestyle transformation, change. This takes place on a daily basis. Look at what a group of genuine Christians looks like, or in other words, what living in a manner worthy of the Gospel is like.
- they stand firm in the faith (they are not tossed to and fro by the waves of life or by every wind of doctrine)
- they are of one spirit (they have the same purpose, they are unified, they are busy living for Christ and do not have time for bickering and arguing over petty things)
- they have one mind (worldview) and that is received by having the same purpose (spirit) and is formed by being students of the Word of God (holding fast the Word of life as chapter 2 says, see the previous article)
- their lives revolve around the faith (living the Gospel, spreading the Gospel though the process of making disciples)
- they have opponents (not because of anything that they have done wrong but because they are preaching the Gospel, all who live the genuine Christian lifestyle will have opponents, Christ taught that)
- they are not afraid of opponents because
- they know that they will come
- they know that the opponents are a sign that they are living as genuine Christians
- the opponents are a sign of the fact that they (genuine Christians) are saved
- they consider it a privilege to suffer for Christ’s sake (just like belief is a privilege)
Where do you stand my dear friend? Are you one of the churchgoers or are you a genuine Christian? Has your life been totally transformed by God or do you still live like you did before “getting saved”? Does your life revolve around the Gospel, living for others as you invest in their lives through the process of discipleship? What changes do you need to make? May God help us be genuine Christians.