“Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents.”
This passage of scripture gives us six directives for what it means to be a citizen of the kingdom of God; six directives for living an authentic Christian life:
1) Live the standards of the gospel.
2) Be an example
3) Stand firm.
4) Be unified.
5) Work together.
6) Defeat fear.
The second directive for authentic Christianity is: Be an example. Paul first tells the Philippians to live according to the standards of the gospel, and then gives them the purpose for obedience: “… so that whether I come and see you or am absent, that I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit.”
In other words, Paul wants the Philippians (and us) to live and work in a way that serves as an example of what the authentic Christian life looks like. This message is echoed throughout scripture.
Jesus said it in the Sermon on the Mount: “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” The Lord calls us to be light in the midst of the darkness of the world. He calls us to do “good works.” As I have written before, the reference to good works certainly includes acts of charity and ministry but is not limited to that. Good works refers to how you go about all aspects of life, including your everyday job.
Jesus made it very clear when he said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). We are called to care about people and seek their best interest, beginning with other Christians. It’s to be noted that Jesus emphasized that love among Christians should be evident to a watching world. We are called to display practical, observable love.
Paul wrote to Timothy and said: “Set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4.12). We are called to be an example in our language and how we talk; in our behavior and actions; in our faith and trust in the Lord; and in our moral conduct.
There is a special emphasis in this passage on leadership. If you are a leader, you should be especially careful to set an example in how you talk and what you do, in how you trust God, and in your moral conduct. Hanging over the entrance to the Marine Corps Officer Candidate School is a sign that reads, “Ductus Exemplo.” It means “Lead by Example.”
Here is one last passage, this one from Titus: “Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned …” (Titus 2:7-8).
We are called to make a difference in the world. That begins with demonstrating to the world what authentic Christianity looks like by how we live and work.
The Lord is calling.