Last week we did a background check of how the congregation of Philippians began. In week 2 of Nettie’s Book Club/Bible Study of Paul’s letter to the Philippians with Matt Chandler’s book To Live is Christ, To Die is Gain, apostle Paul starts sketching a picture of the Christian worthy life. What are the hallmarks of a life worth living and dying for?
Reading for the week
Chapter 2 of To Live is Christ, To Die is Gain by Matt Chandler
Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ.Philippians 1:27
Sitting in a dark, cold prison cell, Paul authors a letter which has been nicknamed the “letter of joy“. How is this possible? I don’t know about you, but to me, it seems like he must have had supernatural power. And that is exactly what it is. Paul has been saved from persecuting Christians to even seeing a fashionista CEO, demon-possessed girl and a jail guard saved by Christ. He knows that God can use any evil for good. Through the perspective of the gospel, he understands that everything he does or goes through must serve the purpose of the glory of Christ. It is only through this lens that Paul can experience his imprisonment as a privilege and blessing to be considered worthy of suffering for the cause of Christ.
What is a Worthy Life?
Paul often refers to the concept of being worthy (see 2 Thess 1:5, Colossians 1:10 and Ephesians 4:1). For Paul, the word worthy means to ascribe worth. When he instructs Christians in worthiness his instruction to live in a worthy way is to live a life that points to the glory of Jesus.
See, in the spiritual economy of Paul, God and His gospel are most important, not Paul and his well-being.Matt Chandler, To Live is Christ, To Die is Gain
This is why Paul can rejoice regardless of where he lives (in prison or in Lydia’s mansion) or who preaches Christ – as long as Christ is taught. Only when we evaluate everything in our lives other than Christ as worthless can we learn that Christ alone is worth living for.
To live is Christ, to die is gain.Philippians 1:21
As Christians, we know that this life is not all there is. We rest secure in the promise of eternal life with Christ. This is why Paul could be at peace regardless of whether he lived to continue preaching the Good News, or whether he would be persecuted and be with Jesus. Either way – it is gain.
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.Philippians 1:27
What does it look like to live a life worthy of the gospel? It looks like dying to self and being renewed through the Holy Spirit into the likeness of Christ. “It means living grace-filled lives that grant patience and mercy and gentleness for the spiritual journeys of others and respect for the differences and idiosyncrasies we all bring to the Lord’s table. The ground is level at the foot of Christ’s cross.” (Matt Chandler)
A life worthy of the gospel is not a perfect life. It is a grace-filled life. It means living a life of humility realizing that we are all a work in progress and treating others and ourselves with an outpouring of unmerited love, as Christ did on the cross.
Living a Courageous Life
“…and not frightened in anything by your opponents.”Philippians 1:28
A life worthy of the gospel of Jesus Christ is fearless, regardless of the situation. Although most of us will not be persecuted for our faith, we face threats to our convictions daily. “Paul talks of marginalization, insults, oppression, persecution, and suffering as if they’re gifts. They are “granted” to us to further the cause of Christ, which is the goal we all strive toward together.” (Matt Chandler) Only when we truly believe all our comforts and convenience on this earth pales to our treasure in heaven, can we live with fearless faith.
So what does it look like to live a life worthy of the gospel of Jesus Christ? It looks like walking with, loving with, and doing life with those who are different from you. What binds you together is Christ. It looks like striving together to make Christ known. What motivates you is Christ. And it looks like standing with courage against all oppressors, natural or supernatural. What secures you is Christ. To live is Christ, and to die is gain.Matt Chandler, To Live is Christ, To Die is Gain
Song for Reflection
Here is another one of the tracks from the modern oratorio of Philippians by Psallos – Of Life and Death (1:18-26) [feat. Andrew Peterson].
“Life on earth is hard but good
Jesus brings the suffering peace
Christ, my joy and hope till final breath
Christ, in life or death.”