“Meanwhile, live in such a way that you are a credit to the Message of Christ. Let nothing in your conduct hang on whether I come or not… Stand united, singular in vision, contending for people’s trust in the Message…”
~ Philippians 1:27 (MSG)
Have you noticed how traffic changes when a police vehicle is visible? People slow down, use their signals, and are generally more polite drivers. My father-in-law, a retired police officer, definitely noticed the difference between being in his police vehicle and being in his own car. It used to drive him crazy how slow people would drive when he was out in his police car!
Acting different depending on who’s around is exactly what Paul tells us not to do when it comes to living life as a follower of Jesus. Don’t simply behave in a manner worthy of the gospel when others (especially other Christians) are present. Rather, he says, be that way all the time.
In fact, he calls it living in such a way that we are a credit to the Message of Christ. Are we? Pause for a moment, and think back to your last 48 hours.
Seriously. Stop reading, pause, and think back.
In the last 48 hours, have you been a credit to the work of Jesus on the cross and in your life? Have you been a peacemaker? Have you been united with other followers of Jesus, showing love to one another and standing firm in one spirit? Have you kept watch over your words to other people?
The reason our manner of life is important is because we are contending for people’s trust in the Gospel. Everyone tends to doubt that we are as loved as God says we are, and that we need God’s love as much as he says we do. You and I are often the only glimpse of Jesus that people get throughout the day.
Based on our attitudes and actions, are they more likely to trust God’s Message to the world? It takes a leap of faith to have confidence in God. It takes an act of Spirit-inspired humility to acknowledge we are not the masters of our own destiny. It takes mind-boggling trust to believe that the work of Jesus on the cross is enough to change everything. This is what we are contending for in other people.
Every day, you are contending for your family’s / co-workers’ / friends’ trust in the Gospel. Every day our choices matter, because they will sway people toward or away from trust in God.
Why? Because we call ourselves Christians. We carry his name, his citizenship. So what we do matters very much. It reflects on Jesus. He says he is working in you, and you are showing the results of his work to the world.
To live in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ is not an easy task. Every day I have reason to lament my failures to live for Jesus the way I desire. This is why life with Jesus must be a partnership: God working in us, and we choosing attitudes and actions that display his gracious work.
Like Jamie said in devotional 1, God is at work in us helping us grow, and he is faithful to see his work carried through to completion. But even though God does the heavy lifting in this partnership, discipleship is not sitting back until God completes his work. Nor is it only acting the part when others are around to see us. Discipleship is also the hard work on our part to live in a way that brings credit to Jesus’ work in us.
Today, let us be a credit to the Message of Jesus.
- Think: People will move closer to or farther from Jesus based on what I say and do.
- Do: Be a peacemaker. Say words that promote peace in your home and work. Avoid words that will cause strife.