Tuesday, April 13th Philippians 1:27-28

Only, live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that, whether I come and see you or am absent and hear about you, I will know that you are standing firm in one spirit, striving side by side with one mind for the faith of the gospel, and are in no way intimidated by your opponents. For them this is evidence of their destruction, but of your salvation. And this is God’s doing.” Philippians 1:27-28

Why are we afraid to tell the story?

There was certainly a time when it was dangerous to be a Christian. Perhaps immediately after the crucifixion there were good reasons for the disciples to hide behind locked doors. They could very well have been next.

And there would come a day, after the destruction of Jerusalem in 67-70 AD, when the Christians bore the brunt of the blame. Ousted from synagogues and families, the scapegoats of the calamities wrought by Rome…there were good reasons to be afraid.

Throughout history there have been times of discrimination and hardship for those who bear the name of Christ in the world. Those days haven’t gone away. There are places in the world today, particularly places in Africa, were full-scale slaughter of Christians because they are Christians has been the order of the day.

The odd thing is…even in such places Christians tend to stand forth with boldness rather than cowering with fear, hiding behind locked lips.

We have no such fears. So why are we afraid to tell the story?

Paul encourages the Philippians to “live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” That’s nothing new. But it could very well be what brings us fear. Deep down inside we know that if we’re going to talk the talk we had better also walk the walk. Maybe the walk is as scary as the talk.

Christianity today is largely a voluntary affair. We don’t get many points out there in the land of malls and skyscrapers because we believe that Jesus has risen from the dead. There are times in fact when it is downright humiliating to be pegged as a Christian – especially one who is vocal about their faith!

It’s far easier to be quiet. To not rock the boat. To stand quietly, idly by…fearful that we might be confronted by a slave girl or two who might recognize us as followers of Christ.

So we compromise…ourselves…our faith…our Lord.

And then we wonder where the fire of the Spirit is in our lives!

A therapist friend of mine once told me about a friend of his who had come to a place in his life where he decided that “he wasn’t going to intimidated by anyone who wasn’t holding a knife or a gun.” I found that image tremendously encouraging – as far as it went.

For me, it is far easier to not be intimidated if I am not alone. Paul speaks to the Philippians as a community – not merely as individuals. Living their life by the Gospel is a community affair. It’s about people living their life together, encouraging and standing with one another. Christianity is a team sport.

That is just what we need to hear on this side of the cross. We, who hug the trunk in terror, fearful of venturing out on the limb where the fruit of our faith is to be found. The time has come to come together in renouncing the fears which keep us quiet!

Our boldness is evidence of God working the gifts of salvation within us. And when we finally open our mouths, we could very well discover that such boldness has the power to open people’s hearts.

Let us pray: Open our lips, O Lord, that we might proclaim the greatness of your mighty acts in the simple stories of our lives. Help us talk the talk. Encourage us in our striving to walk the walk. Keep us faithful in the Galilee’s where we live. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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