“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.” ~Philippians 1:28-29 (NLT)
The last time I was with you I was all keyed up on a new phrase I learned—“Gospel Pioneer”. Gotta tell ya, I think it’s a really cool title to have because it says that you are for The Gospel and you’re willing to do some suffering for it…right? Because in the life of any good pioneer comes dilemmas. I mean our Bibles are printed in black and white until we get to Jesus and those red letters. When I see those red letters coming up in the four Gospels (a splash can be found in Acts and Revelation) I see the confrontation of a dilemma or two…or three…or four…just depends on what chapter of the Gospel you read. Even though dilemmas can suck the joy right outta us, if they are handled like Jesus much can be gleaned for the side of truth. This was something the Apostle Paul understood as well.
Now for any of you that are scratching your head wondering what dilemmas are they are like being stuck between a rock and a hard place. So what’s the prescription for you when you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place? (If any of you say “More Cowbell” we need to talk) Well I guess we start at this verse since this was Paul’s own personal dilemma…“For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better.” (Phil 1:21) As in all dilemmas there are benefits and liabilities so we’ll look at this from Chuck Swindoll’s perspective
We have option 1: To Depart. “dying is even better” I could go into how Swindoll talked about the freedom from chains, imprisonments and stoning Paul would be free from as one of the benefits but we can see what he would experience being in God’s hands in Psalm 16:11: “You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of Your presence and the pleasures of living with You forever.” The liability in this was this infant church would lose its pioneer and we’re not too sure who would have remained to champion it for the future. Let’s not forget those Romans guards either…the word of God had begun to pierce the hearts of these men.
Now we have option 2: To Remain. “living means living for Christ” By sticking around Paul could keep his writing ministry going. After all we do get alot of Christ-like application from his writings in the New Testament. Paul could also help nurture that infant church so that as they grew they would gain the security and hope for its future. But the liability was to stay chained to those Roman guards possibly not being released from his imprisonment. However, in both cases Paul’s joy was Jesus Christ and the sufferings that came with Him. “But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.” (Phil 3:7) Mighty fine attitude to have for those of us that have experienced imprisonment of one kind or another huh?
So how are we to respond when we find ourselves between that rock and hard place dilemma? Do we really ask for more cowbell or do we put on a set of Biblical bifocals so we can properly see what’s in front of us affecting our today and what the ripple effect will be when it effects our tomorrow? Well since I already wear these fancy transition style bifocals that get dark in the sunlight I’d say my prescription is clear. Go back to those red letters, see how Jesus handled things (I believe He covered a lot of life’s dilemmas) and reconsider just how important it is for me to have Christ in my life.
Paul assured the Philippians there was no reason to be shy or hesitant when dilemmas occurred. They weren’t alone, Christ was for them. The victory was theirs, Christ won it for them. They were not alarmed by their opponents, Christ has them on the right path…it’s cool. Maintain hope and be encouraged, and know that you’re not alone in the battle to ensure that Gospel pioneering goes forward. AND GUESS WHAT? All four of these viewpoints for them are for you too. All you gotta do is allow it to work its way into your walk and when others see the joy of suffering for Jesus on your face they’re gonna know you’re different. Amen?
Written by Chris Hughes: Chris, a graduate of The Colony of Mercy (11-2003) is married with two adult children and serves on the Deacon Board at Trinity Alliance Church in Cologne NJ
The Daily Bible Reading: Psalm 143; Proverbs 25
Daily Quote: “The presence of opposition, Paul assures them (The Philippians), shows that they are on the right path in their active gospel witness. It is a token of salvation to them, as it is a token of perdition for the opponents: “they will lose and …you will win” God is the author of the Gospel: those who defend it may therefore expect deliverance and victory from Him as surely as those who resist it may expect to incur His judgement.” ~F.F. Bruce
This Week’s Verse to Memorize:
25 I have been young, and now am old,
yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken
or his children begging for bread. ~Psalm 37:25