Conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then…I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel. -Philippians 1:27
The first few months after I became a Christian, I wrote down Philippians 1:27 on lime green flash card and tacked it onto my bathroom mirror. The idea that I should conduct myself in a way worthy of the gospel convicted me. Then and now, my perfectionist tendencies tend to come out as a desire to prove myself worthy for all sorts of things: as a writer, as a mother, as a friend. Under my breath I admit that I like to be the best. So, I read Phil. 1:27 as a personal challenge to be the best at displaying the gospel.
Ironically, being the best at displaying the gospel encompasses a lot more than my own actions. In fact, the rest of verse 27 describes the communal aspect of living a life worthy of God. Paul, the writer of Philippians, encourages the church to stand together in one spirit, striving together as one for the gospel. Paul had a collective vision for glorifying God by displaying forgiveness, reconciliation, grace, discipline, and compassion. So much for my self-made worth.
What Paul is talking about isn’t only unity, as previously mentioned, but a collective vision for what the church looks like. To stretch the sports analogy, it’s not only being part of the team, but embodying the principles of teamwork: effort, encouragement, shared responsibility. A Christian community at it’s best is unified a vision to embody the gospel.
A few years ago, my husband had his 30th birthday and we decided to throw a big party with all of his friends. Many church friends came and a few of his work friends showed up too. At the end of a really fun evening, a co-worker that my husband had known for years came up to us and asked how we knew all these people. He said there’s no way that people our age have built this type of community. We told him they were from our church and shock poured over his face. People from the church could actually be fun! He was dumb-founded, truly struck with awe that the Christian faith could produce a one-of-a-kind community. He wanted friendships like this. He wanted friendships that were real. That night, I smiled because I had no idea that a birthday party could be a way that community was going to display the joy of the gospel to someone that night.
We display our faith by how we treat our friends. So, you might just be preaching Jesus at a party by being a faithful friend and “striving together as one for the faith of the gospel.”
Questions for your Community:
How does your behavior amongst your friends become a vision for the gospel of Christ?
Do you all treat one another as if you were united in one spirit?
What changes could be made so that you are striving together as one for your faith?
Don’t be afraid to mix your Christian friends with your non-Christian friends. Having a gathering could be the way God speaks to your friends who do not know His gospel. He reaches people through relationship.