Philippians 2:12-18

Having grown up as a Protestant in a Catholic country, I have seen this passage misused in discussions about salvation by grace versus works, but it makes more sense when we remember it is a continuation of Paul’s thought from verse 1:27 about what it means to live in the way worthy of the Gospel of Christ.

One way to summarize Philippians 2:12-18 would be to say, living in the way of Jesus with the heart of Jesus takes work (grace is opposed to earning, not effort), happens in community, stands out in the world, and the side effects might include suffering or even sacrifice . . . but it’s God himself empowering you, transforming you, and the world around you, and it will all be worth it in the end!

A Colony of Heaven in a Dissatisfied World, our series title, is a helpful metaphor for understanding the passage. A colony is generally a place where a group of people come to settle which is under the control of their home country. We are like a colony in this world. We live under a different authority (Kingdom of God), empowered by a different power (King Jesus) to model a different type of community (church) and showcase our different way of life (the way of Jesus) to those around us.

The Message version paraphrases it so well:

Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God. Carry the light-giving Message into the night so I’ll have good cause to be proud of you on the day that Christ returns. You’ll be living proof that I didn’t go to all this work for nothing.

Paul is quick to remind us that being different comes with suffering and even sacrifice (true of any settlers in any colony), but it will not be in vain in the end. And you will be in good company! Your King has suffered for you first, Paul and countless others have suffered to make sure you can be a part of this colony too. So if you are facing hardships, welcome to the club . . . or rather the colony!

Now, go be the settler you were meant to be and do something today that makes people pause and wonder about the great Kingdom you represent.

Something that reflects the unlimited power of the King who empowers you.
Something worthy of your King’s sacrifice.
Something so different that even your jaded fellow Californians will take notice! 😊

Luke B.

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