Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News. Don’t be intimidated in any way by your enemies. This will be a sign to them that they are going to be destroyed, but that you are going to be saved, even by God himself. For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him. We are in this struggle together. You have seen my struggle in the past, and you know that I am still in the midst of it.
“Above all . . . .” This sentence in Philippians 1:27 reminds me of what Jesus said, “Seek first God’s Kingdom and His righteousness. . . .” (See Matthew 6:33.) When God and His cause have pre-eminence in our lives, we put all our efforts into seeking Him. We have one top priority, and our lives are simplified.
Additionally as Jesus and Paul state, the rewards for living this lifestyle are immediate. We are part of God’s family on earth, and we are unified with others who also have the seeking for God and living for Him as their top priority. We work together, and God is on our side so faith is rewarded by His presence. Thus, the Good News of the Kingdom is demonstrated and told to others.
Of course, persecution does come. God’s enemy, Satan, is still alive and will fight. We keep standing in unity no matter what trouble comes. We do not have to be afraid and intimidated. With our attitude of courage and faith, the enemy knows he is defeated and God will rescue us.
Meanwhile, we have joy in trouble because we have the opportunity to suffer with Jesus. We are further unified with other family members here on earth who suffer for their faith. The family unity is a gift from God, a circle of love and protection that lifts us up when we are in the middle of a time of struggle. Our unity and love gets stronger the more that we struggle under persecution.
Did the hope of the Good News of a Son to save the world motivate Eve’s life, or did she live in shame? Did the enemy, Satan, mostly make her feel intimidated and defeated? Did her children treat her with love and respect, or did they blame all their problems on her?
Yes, her sin started the sin ball rolling. Still, she could have lived in God’s forgiveness. She could have lived as a citizen of Heaven who worked in unity with her husband so they could share the burden of their suffering and support each other every day. Their love could have been a constant draw, pulling their children to God and His great love.
The mother of Jesus had to walk a lonesome road much of her life. In a very real and personal way she understood a lot about both the suffering and the joy that living for Jesus brings. How comforting it must have been for her to understand God’s Good News and to enjoy that circle of love with John, Jesus’ beloved disciple, and other believers after Jesus returned to heaven.
Dear Father over all, please help me to live today with my priorities straight. Thank You that I can be on the winning team and not be intimidated by the enemy. Thank You for the privilege of living my life as a citizen of Heaven within the circle of Your love that surrounds Your suffering children here on earth. This life is possible because of Jesus, His suffering and His Good News! Amen!