How well has the Church displayed the gospel?
Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ.” Even in the face of his possible execution for his faith, and even though the Philippians he was writing to anticipated similar struggles, Paul was convinced that the gospel was the thing that was most important. Throughout his letter to the Philippians, Paul points to the success of that good news. Others preach it. Many believe it. His friends show how it should be lived. And he hopes that the Philippian church will live it, too.
Over the last couple of weeks, we have seen Paul ask for the church to live without fear and to be united with each other. Living this way was a testimony to the truth of the gospel Paul preached. “This is a clear sign… of your salvation,” he tells them. As those Christians lived in difficulty, their worthy lives could also preach the gospel to those around them.
So if we looked at our own difficult times, what would we say about how well the Church displayed the gospel? If we focused on how we’ve done with fear and with unity, it might not be a pretty picture. If we were to pay attention only to the stories in the news of churches who insisted on staying open, refusing to pay attention to both the experts and the government, we might be very disappointed. We have seen plenty of examples of churches and Christians failing to follow the example of Christ by refusing to put our neighbors first, of not considering the needs of others above our own wants and desires. It could easily look like we have failed to live worthy of the gospel.
But those are not the only stories. They may not make the news, but I have heard plenty of stories of Christians loving their neighbors. Most are stories about simple acts like bringing groceries to vulnerable neighbors who are worried about being out in public or making a phone call to someone stuck alone in a nursing home. Churches found new ways to hold services, maybe a “drive-in” service or over the Internet, in a desire to meet spiritual needs in hard times. These and so many other small acts are how most of us are going to be able to live worthy of the gospel. They might seem insignificant, but they show the world what it means to love God and love our neighbors.
As I write, the news doesn’t look good. Virus numbers appear to be rising in many places; maybe we are entering a new wave. But even if we are not, we can strive to live a life worthy of the gospel in all that we do.