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Worthy of the gospel?

September 16, 2009

Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God. (Phil 1:27-28)

Do you live in a manner that is worthy of the gospel of Christ? When we tell others we are a Christian our lives should reflect and exhibit certain conduct, attitudes, and hopes. Those will grow over time as we mature in our walk.

Have you ever been challenged about your conduct and if you are living in a manner that is worthy? I have been daily asking myself if I am living in a manner that is worthy. Do my priorities, values, activities, and goals reflect this? Does my communication? Do my actions?

A few days ago I was watching an episode of an old TV show, Early Edition. In that show one of the main characters was talking with a friend from church. The characters were both supposed to be active attenders who were actively involved at a church. That tells me they were proclaiming to be a Christian. Their speech though was critical of others, angry, unforgiving, unloving, impatient, lacking self-control, and rude. My heart ached as I watched it because that is the image of Christians that is being given to the world. If that behavior is shown as okay and acceptable for Christians then what sets us apart?

Christian’s lives should be marked by love, grace, humility, hope, forgiveness, and unity. We should love without bounds, forgive repeatedly, pursue after and hold onto relationships, and have a hope and peace that others do not carry. Let me ask again, do you conduct yourself in a manner that is worthy of the gospel? Don’t change for the gospel, let it change you!

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. October 20, 2009 10:54 am

    I still come here, able to find inspirin words from you… your thoughts keep me thinking and i have to say.. a lot of people(including me) call ourselves christians but dont allow God to work in us… I am now trying to make a conscience effort to conduct in a godly way, and letting God change the way I think. I hope you remember me. Love you sherie

    xoxo

    • October 20, 2009 1:10 pm

      Absolutely I remember you. It is great to hear from you. I have been learning this summer that letting God change the way we think starts deep in our heart and it may be some of the hardest changes we can go through, but they are deep, powerful, and life changing. I hope you do allow God to change you and to draw you toward him. God is so big that we can think we know and understand things and even after walking with him for 25 years I am amazed at who he is and what he does in people’s lives. He loves us so much. I hope you are well and that the changes you were making in your life last year have proved to be positive. Hang in there and keep looking toward God. He is the source of truth and the answers. I believe that with all of who I am.
      Sherie

  2. October 25, 2009 4:52 am

    Insightful and thoughtful post, Sherrie. The problem is that the very questions, “Am I living in a manner worthy of the gospel?” or “Do I reflect and exhibit certain conduct, attitudes, and hopes?” can incline us to examine things upside-down.

    Of course serious sin patterns need to be yanked out root and branch with whatever grace, energy, and help from others that we can get. But the other things you’re talking about — growth in love, joy, patience, self-control and the other fruits of the Holy Spirit are just that — fruits. You don’t get fruit by energetically working on them. Instead, you position the plant in good soil, see that it is well-fertilized and watered, keep it free from pests and predators, and then you wait. And then you see fruit.

    So I wonder if a better question for ourselves might be, “Am I abiding in the vine? Am I feeding and watering and protecting — in other words, am I being a good steward of the things that affect my growth that God has put into my bailiwick?” We can only be stewards over our own resources. God himself gives the growth.

    • October 26, 2009 7:21 am

      Roz,
      You bring up a great point. I am not sure the question is wrong since Phil 1:27-28 tells us to conduct ourselves worthy of the gospel, but you point out how we get there. We don’t conduct ourselves worthy through our own works. I have been there before and it creates terrible bondage in our lives when we think we can work our and accomplish our salvation and growth through hard work. Instead, as you said it comes through the being connected to the vine. Our conduct is an outflowing that comes from the condition of our heart and how our heart is in right or wrong relationship with God and others. We do have to be cautious about looking at others and judging them based on external behavior though because there are all sorts of reasons the externals may not be in sync with the internals and God makes it clear that what is most important to him is the heart. As our hearts are committed and surrendered to him the externals will over time align more and more with the condition of our heart and show those fruits but we need to be paitent, uplifting, encouraging, and persevere with others even if they are not quite there yet.

      I love your question “am I feeding and watering and protecting?” It causes us to look at things a little differently to get to the roots. Thanks!

  3. October 26, 2009 9:53 am

    I think we’re both onto the same truth, though I think it’s worthwhile talking further and clarifying the way we are doing. This is an area where there’s a lot of confusion in the minds of Christians. You’re absolutely right that our outward conduct needs to reflect the call of Christ in our lives, which I take to mean vigorous pursuit of obedience to God. however, I’m aware that sometimes people are “challenged about [their] conduct and if [they] are living in a manner that is worthy”, which might reveal some assumptions that, in my view, are fallacies.

    One of these assumptions is that what is seen on the outside is accurately reflective of the heart. The week after I gave my life to Christ, I was probably as much of a sarcastic, lazy, truth-embroidering putz as I had been the week before. But the dwelling place of my heart was different. I had been transferred from the mucky swamp of the kingdom of sin into the kingdom of God. The Holy Spirit had access to my heart and was able to begin a transforming work that still goes on. My continuing imperfections are a sign that I’m not done being hosed off. Nevertheless, the transfer from one kingdom to another is a done deal. I could leap off the edge back into the swamp, I suppose, but I’ve never had a desire to do that. Thank God.

    Another assumption is that it is up to us to make sure our behavior and that of others in the church woo others into belief in Christ. This is incorrect. Certainly poor behavior can give terrible scandal, and it’s one reason we should energetically work to root out sin in our lives. But it is far more winsome to others (and reflective of the truth) if we live lives of mutual love, respect, and support that also reach out in love to those God sends to us. How powerful it was for me to walk for the first time into a church (on Father’s Day) in which the pastor’s sermon consisted of the ways that God the Father’s love surpassed the faulty ways he had been able to love his children over the years. He was strikingly frank and honest. I immediately knew this was a place where God was depended on, my own perfection was not yet demanded, and where the people were going to be humble and genuine. Who wouldn’t want to hang around more of that?

    Scripture enjoins us to lovingly address areas of serious sin in one another’s lives as a means of helping remove the veil from their eyes and moving them towards repentance. For instance, if I see my brother in Christ cooking the books or conducting an extramarital affair, it is right to go to him, telling him what I observe (checking the facts, if necessary) and encouraging him to address it righteously, following all the steps laid out in the New Testament. And there’s a role for brotherly chastisement on smaller matters — I appreciate it when someone gently draws my attention to it when I’ve embroidered the truth or spoken contemptuously. These are certainly ways we can serve one another.

    But I’m concerned whether, when we ask ourselves if we’re living in a manner worthy of the gospel, we’re instead looking at how we appear to other people. Are we afraid of living transparent lives because we’re afraid our weaknesses will be met with criticism and judgment rather than acceptance, prayer and love? Do we look at people who struggle with temptation as less worthy and expect other Christians to have the same attitude toward us? Do we equate depression or fear with a state of sinfulness? Do we unconsciously think of a successful Christian life as one that is seamless and polished rather than humble and increasingly hungry for God himself?

    As churches – as the body of Christ – what should we be encouraging one another in? I’m afraid we sometimes try to look like we’ve reached the pinnacle rather than supporting one another through the process of gradually getting cleaned up after we’ve been transported by Christ from the muck to higher ground.

    • October 28, 2009 7:01 pm

      I agree that I think we are saying very similar things. The points you listed above are very good and I agree with them.

      I recently was forced out of a church because the pastor looked at one area of outward expressions (e.g. fear and lack of submission to him in the way he wanted me to submit and related communication) and through that he decided that I was not a believer. I have 25 years of other outward signs including my finances, calendar, belongings, and numerous other testimonies, but he looked at this one area of my life and said it revealed that I was unteachable, unsubmissive to God, and was a lying to others by claiming I was a believer. Even he said my words expressed that I believed but he felt my behavior in this one area reflected a different heart. Like you said, “The Holy Spirit had access to my heart and was able to begin a transforming work that still goes on. My continuing imperfections are a sign that I’m not done being hosed off.”

      If I am hearing you correctly on the other key point you brought up I would summarize it as what Christ said was the 2nd part of the great commandment, we need to love our neighbor. Love, especially in the face of conflict, brokenness, pain, and struggle is one of the greatest witnesses we can have to others. That love is not something we can conjure up. Infact if we even try we are walking in pretense which really is a form of hypocrisy and is therefore sinful. Love of this nature can only come from a heart that is centered on Christ and where God’s love pours out of us and changes us into his servant. I agree that we should live transparent lives that are authentic and open to others. As believers I think we should be moving to a place where there aren’t any areas of our lives that we would be ashamed to be made public (not that they have to be made public). If we as believers look down on and judge others then we are forgetting that we share the most basic connection with them, we are all created by God, a sinner by nature, and in desperate need of his salvation and a life that needs to be transformed.

      I have recently started attending a church that is gospel centered. They proclaim it regularly and clearly and unlike any church I have ever been to I see it changing the lives of those who attend there. I also have recently become connected with another community that is learning to live in spiritual community that is gospel centered where we share like they did in Acts 2. Most churches really just walk in comfort and congenial relationships. I don’t see that this is what the Bible calls us to, and honestly it leaves me disillusioned and disappointed in Christians. The Jesus I know and love is radical and he calls me to a life that is very different than this world.

      So, when I ask “Do you live in a manner that is worthy of the gospel of Christ?” What I really am asking is are you willing to live the life Christ has called us to, picking up the cross to sacrificially give up your plans and live by the standards/commands/objectives and in the love that Christ showed us the example of? Would someone who doesn’t know Christ look at your life and see the gospel and love of Christ exhibited in your life?

  4. truthfirst1 permalink
    January 13, 2010 7:49 pm

    Awesome post. No one is ‘worthy’ of the Gospel. We’re sinners. But, once we are saved and covered by the Gospel, we should be grateful and strive to be worthy!

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