Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.

Philippians 4: 1

 

Because of Christ and His work in me, I am no longer the same person as I was before Him. As a result of the work that His Spirit continues to perform in and upon me, I am not the same as I was last year or even last month. Admittedly, this process of change and the transformative aspects of it is a ragged and uneven journey. There are good days and hard ones, and there are times of gain and times when all of my endeavors seem to land in the red ink zone of loss. Yet, everything serves the purposes of Christ as He brings redemption to all that is submitted to Him.

 

In light of this common journey of faith that is the life of a follower of Christ, Paul shares two great bits of advice and direction for our days. The first of these is found in the Apostle’s joy and delight in his fellow believers. Now I grant that the church at Philippi was a success story. Yet, it was populated by people, and we are an uneven and difficult lot, at best. Still, Paul expresses a deep and an unshakable faith in the Christ-image beauty of them. These beloved people are his joy and his crown. This is how we should see our fellow followers of Christ. We get to choose this attitude of love and grace, and we can decide to extend or to withhold our affections from others. However, Christ would have us reach out to the body of His people with open arms of embrace and with willingness to listen and to share the journey.

 

The other directive advice that Paul gives is to stand firm in the Lord. We do this best with the accompaniment of others. Separation and isolation are tools that Satan uses to weaken our efforts and to make each of us, both our collective groups, the churches, and us as individuals easier targets for attack. So, our strength is multiplied collectively, and these are days when strength will matter greatly. These are times when God’s love for all of humanity needs to be portrayed by followers of Christ so that it can stand in stark contrast to the anger and fear of our world. This year the Word of God will not require defense as much as it will demand clear and accurate rendition in the public square. During these coming days, the gospel of love, peace, and redemption, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, is what His people are called to stand upon and to demonstrate in all that we think, say, and do. In this way, as we are fully committed and totally submitted to Christ, we are truly standing firm in the Lord.

 

 

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