“Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God. For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake; Having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me … Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain. Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all. For the same cause also do ye joy, and rejoice with me” (Philippians 1:27-30, 2:12-18).
Faith in Jesus Christ does not just apply itself on Sunday or when engaged in some spiritual activity, instead it is for every day, every situation and must be observable to every person we interact with. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
Striving together for Christ
John Donne wrote, “No man is an island”, and this is certainly true with regards to the members of the church. Each one of us ought to be labouring together for the common good of the Body of Christ. We must be good citizens of the nation we live in, but we need to be examples of what a citizen of the Kingdom of God should be like too. Our faith in Christ should manifest itself in society, which infers that we ought to avoid the ungodliness the world involves itself in.
We cannot do this alone, but need the support that only likeminded people can give. Our text asks us to be of one spirit and one mind as we strive together for the cause of Christ. This means that we are collectively a witness to the lost, a shining light in darkness and a conduit of God’s grace. This would be unachievable if we bicker and fight each other. The Holy Spirit endeavours to have unity amongst the true followers of Christ. “Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace … Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:3, 13).
Working it out
The precious gift of salvation is not something to be hidden from but to be revealed to the world. Working out our salvation involves making it know that we believe in the only Saviour mankind will ever receive. It means that we must practice what we preach. Our lives should appear like brilliant lights in contrast to the world’s spiritual darkness.
Many Christians find it easier to compromise with the world instead of standing firm in Christ, but true His true followers know they are different and act differently from the world. “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:11-12).
We all influence people in various ways. Do we influence people to follow Christ or are they put off thinking about their need of salvation because of the hypocritical lives we lead? Are we too embarrassed to have them know we are Christians? “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation” (Romans 1:16). So what kind of example are we? If Christ rules in our hearts, then we will want to live holy and godly. If the world rules, then we will live by its standards and morality instead.
As Christians our thoughts, words, actions and desires are under the control and guardianship of God. “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Colossians 3:17) … “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you” (Philippians 4:8-9). Which means that we will be influenced by the Holy Spirit instead of the spirit of the world. “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Romans 8:14) … “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God” (1 Corinthians 2:12).
Those who Christ has influenced will influence those around them. It is our responsibility to be a faithful and loyal witness for Christ in our homes, church, workplace and amongst all we come into contact with in the course of our lives.