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Worthy lives: united, brave and humble

March 18, 2024

Daily Scripture

Philippians 1:27-2:3

27 Most important, live together in a manner worthy of Christ’s gospel. Do this, whether I come and see you or I’m absent and hear about you. Do this so that you stand firm, united in one spirit and mind as you struggle together to remain faithful to the gospel. 28 That way, you won’t be afraid of anything your enemies do. Your faithfulness and courage are a sign of their coming destruction and your salvation, which is from God. 29 God has generously granted you the privilege, not only of believing in Christ but also of suffering for Christ’s sake. 30 You are having the same struggle that you saw me face and now hear that I’m still facing.
2:1 Therefore, if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort in love, any sharing in the Spirit, any sympathy, 2 complete my joy by thinking the same way, having the same love, being united, and agreeing with each other. 3 Don’t do anything for selfish purposes, but with humility think of others as better than yourselves.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

Paul urged Christians in Philippi to “live together in a manner worthy of Christ’s gospel,” to “stand firm, united in one spirit and mind.” The Greek deepened Paul’s thought: “The phrase ‘live together’ is drawn from a noun that means ‘citizen.’ Paul calls them to live as citizens of Christ’s realm rather than as Roman citizens.” * In Philippi, many people proudly upheld their status as Roman citizens even though they were not in Rome. Paul called his readers to live with an even deeper loyalty as citizens of God’s kingdom.

  • Ponder the call to “live together in a manner worthy of Christ’s gospel.” If someone asked you “What is that gospel?” how would you answer? (If you’re not sure, review 2 Timothy 1:8-10, among many places that summarized Paul’s core good news message.) What does it mean for you to live in a manner worthy of that life-changing, world-changing message? In what ways is that a bigger challenge than just giving up a few bad habits?
  • Paul’s call to live out our “citizenship” in God’s kingdom may be especially important in this heated election year. Most, though not all, GPS readers are United States citizens, and love our home country. Paul, himself a Roman citizen by birth (cf., Acts 22:25-28), said his (and our) ultimate loyalty as believers is to Christ’s domain, not any earthly realm. How do your priorities, choices and activities shift if you think of yourself as a “citizen of Christ’s realm” above any other loyalty?

Lord Jesus, you gave your all to open the doors of your kingdom for even a struggler like me. I have a lot to learn and grow in, but I want to be a citizen of your kingdom. Count me in! Amen.

GPS Insights

Valerie Nagel

Valerie Nagel

Valerie Nagel serves as a Connection and Care Pastor at Resurrection Leawood. She was born, raised, and attended college in California. Her Master of Divinity degree is from Duke Divinity School. She began serving as an associate pastor in the Rio Texas Conference in 2011 in the Austin area and San Antonio. From congregational care and welcoming guests to leading in worship, Valerie loves the ministry of the local church. She juggles ministry with being a mom to Caleb (born 2012) and Jacob (born 2015), friend, avid reader, lover of the outdoors, beginner to the world of CrossFit, and foodie.

I read and reread our passage for today several times. Paul writes about weighty topics–unity in the Spirit, suffering for Christ’s sake, humility, and living as citizens of Christ’s realm. When I hear these words, I try to remember what Jesus said to his followers. He said that his yoke is easy and his burden is light (Matthew 11:30). Sometimes, though, I read Paul’s words, and even Jesus’ words, and I think, “I’m so tired. That is too much.” I know Jesus invites us to come to him. He specifically says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). And yet, sometimes when I read Paul’s words, I feel discouraged, rather than encouraged to live as Christ lived.

What I kept coming back to was Paul’s words to “struggle together.” When I feel discouraged or overwhelmed, wondering how I will live like Jesus or press on in difficult circumstances as Paul did, I remember that I am not alone. Of course, God’s Spirit is always with me, with us. Yet there is something so important about being with other followers of Jesus. When we gather in worship or small groups or on a Serve Saturday, I’m reminded that I don’t have to carry anything, whether a personal challenge or an invitation for the sake of the Gospel, alone. I am never alone.

And when I am most tired, that is when being with others helps me to feel brave and helps me to rest knowing that all of us are one in Christ. I don’t have to feel afraid to give my gifts–time, financial resources, energy–to others, or even to stop all my hustling so that I can rest in Christ’s presence, because we are in this together. We have life, hope, and joy because of what God has done for us. I’m not the one saving the world. I have the privilege of showing up with you as we struggle together to love God and love others. Thanks be to God for grace and community. I’m so thankful I’m a part of God’s family with you. As Pastor Robert shared in his sermon, in the wise words of staff member Debi Nixon, “A healthy local church can change the world.” I’m so grateful to join with you and God in changing the world.

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

* Jerry L. Sumney, study note on Philippians 1:27-30 in The CEB Study Bible. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2013, p. 376 NT.