Stop Scuffling, Start Shining (Theology for Living from Philippians)

Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. (Paul’s letter to the Philippians, chapter 2, verses 14-16)

After all the hints as to what is going on, Paul finally comes out and acknowledges what specifically is happening in Philippi.  They are grumbling and arguing.  Grumbling is the complaining that goes on inside a person and between persons who are on the same side of the argument.  It provides fuel for the argument.  You know how it works.  I’m upset with you and find someone else who will share my upset and we commiserate and validate our reasons for being upset with you and then when we’re around you we start a fight.

When a whole church is involved this way, the fellowship Jesus died to create, the unity the Holy Spirit makes possible, and the affection that was once binding us together gets destroyed.  Instead of the non-Christian community seeing a redeemed community that is different from theirs, blameless and pure, they see the same warped and crooked behavior they are used to.  Hence the strong, straight forward command from Paul to cease and desist such destructive behavior.

We were brought to Christ from a warped and crooked generation, and without a doubt we brought warped and crooked baggage into our relationship with Christ and His church.  But we have now heard and embraced the word of life, the message of Jesus’ rescue that is available to us by faith in Him.  He wants to make us a shining example of His grace and forgiveness.  This grace and forgiveness shines most brilliantly in our relationships with other formerly warped and crooked people.

Can you stop scuffling and start shining?  Paul has just given us a model to follow in Jesus.  But lest we think that Jesus is too perfect a model to follow, Paul will also give us several followers of Jesus to hold up and examine and see if we will realize that just like them we too can imbibe the spirit of Jesus and shine like stars in the sky.  We have encouragement from being united with Christ, comfort from his love, common sharing in the Spirit, and tenderness and compassion that has been poured out in our hearts (2:1,2).  We are able to fellowship with Jesus and have his heart become our heart.


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