Daniel Custodio writes from M.Gerais, Brazi

I. Introduction

The epistle to the Philippians is an epistle of gratitude and joy.

With genuine love, appropriate wisdom, and great optimism, Paul spoke to them. And as he spoke to them, he speaks to us today.

Philippi was a Roman colony, and its citizens enjoyed the privilege of being citizens of Rome. They enjoyed legal rights there as if they lived on Roman soil near the capital of the Roman Empire. Paul reminds these believers on two different occasions that their real citizenship was heavenly (Phil. 1:27; 3:20). Paul is not suggesting that they ignore the obligations of earthly citizenship, but he challenges them to live in the pagan city of Philippi as citizens of the holy and higher kingdom of God.

Paul voices greetings from the saints in Caesar's household as he comes to the end of this epistle. This could serve as a challenge to those in Philippi to be faithful and devoted servants of Jesus Christ (Phil. 4:22). If you could live for Christ in Caesar's household, it follows that you could live for Christ also in Philippi or in any modern, contemporary city.

The shape of our response to God must take many different forms according to the pressures and the needs which we encounter. It is interesting to note the manner in which Paul hoped that they would conduct themselves as citizens of the kingdom of God.

II. He Would Have Them Stand Firm in One Spirit with One Mind (Phil. 1:27).

The threat of divisiveness or disunity has always threatened the witness of the church. This is true in the modern day, and it was true in those early days of the Christian movement.

We need to recognize that there are many handicaps or hindrances to maintaining a unity of mind and spirit.

A. The immaturity of God's family can cause disunity.
B. The individuality of persons can create disunity.
C. Honest differences of opinion can sometimes be very divisive.
D. Physical and emotional fatigue can create disunity.
E. We must recognize that our enemy, the devil, is always seeking to divide the people of God in order that He might conquer.
F. The difficulty involved in effective service may not contribute to unity.

The apostle Paul was urging the church in Philippi to make definite movements toward unity within the body in order that they might properly reflect the grace and the goodness of God in their city.

III. He Would Have Them Strive Together in a United Effort

A. We must strive together, side-by-side, for the sake of the gospel

The followers of Jesus Christ should work together like dedicated and disciplined athletes on a winning team.

The disciples of Christ should cooperate with each other in redemptive activity like the members of a choir singing in perfect unison and in tune with each other.

B. We must strive together to protect the purity of the faith that we believe. There are those who would seek to mix error with truth. We must strive together to protect the purity of our message.

C. We must strive together side-by-side in proclaiming the Good News in our personal world.

IV. He Would Have Them Stand Firm Against Opposition

It was no popular thing to preach a message of a crucified but risen Savior in the world in which Paul lived. Because of the multiplicity of idols and shrines, many with vested interests opposed any religion that would disturb the status quo. Bravery was essential for success in the face of opposition to the gospel message.

V. He Encouraged Them to Be Willing to Suffer for the Sake of Christ (v.29).

In many parts of the modern world it is popular and socially acceptable for one to be a professing Christian. Such was not the case in Philippi. Such is not the case in many parts of the world today.

Many contemporary followers of Jesus Christ have never faced up to the fact that the cross is the symbol of our faith and our commitment to the will of God. If we would be true followers of Jesus Christ, we must be willing to suffer for our faith as He suffered, and as others have suffered.

VI. Conclusion

What is the shape of your Christian life in the modern world? Philippi was a Roman colony, and the citizens of Rome were encouraged to dress like Romans, act like Romans, think like Romans, speak like Romans, and never forget that they were Romans.

What is the shape of your Christian life in the modern world? Philippi was a Roman colony, and the citizens of Rome were encouraged to dress like Romans, act like Romans, think like Romans, speak like Romans, and never forget that they were Romans.

VII. Illustration

In the third century, Cyprian, the Bishop of Carthage, wrote to his friend Donatus: "It is a bad world, Donatus, an incredibly bad world. But I have discovered in the midst of it a quiet and good people who have learned the great secret of life. They have found a joy and wisdom which is a thousand times better than any of the pleasures of our sinful life. They are despised and persecuted, but they care not. They are masters of their souls. They have overcome the world. These people, Donatus, are Christians... and I am one of them."

Ellen G. White Quotations
The Shape of Our Christian Citizenship

In His Gift to the world, the Lord has revealed how solicitous He is that we bear in our lives the marks of our heavenly citizenship by letting every ray of light we have received shine forth in good works to our fellowmen -Sons and Daughters of God, p. 42.

"The Lord would have us represent Christ, and show to the world his attractive character. ... If we indeed have our citizenship above, and a title to an immortal inheritance, an eternal substance, then let us have that faith that works by love and purifies the soul from every spiritual defilement -Supplement to Review and Herald, "To Every Man His Work," p. 44.

Daniel Custodio writes from M.Gerais, Brazil