Standing Firm in the Fray
A lot is going wrong in the world. On the days that I read the news, I cringe as I click the link on my phone, fairly certain that the headline will be grim. With so many stories of arbitrary violence in my head, it is easy to suspect that everyone I encounter is some kind of threat. Then I look around me and see sin and disunity in the Church. Most discouragingly of all, there are days when my own heart is primarily selfish and faithless. In light of these things, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and to go through life with a sense of dread.
Believe it or not, life was similar for the Philippians. The dominating world power of Rome was opposed to Christ and was threatening them. Violence was undeniable. Their beloved Paul was in prison, awaiting trial before Caesar, and they knew he might die. Meanwhile, fellow Christians were preaching the gospel out of selfish motives because they were jealous of Paul’s success. False teachers were present and unfaithful. And, in spite of their strengths, there was some disunity within the Philippian church.
The reason things are this way, both then and now, is because we’re in a battle. It’s true, it’s real, and it’s something the Lord wants us to know. In light of this, however, Paul gives us a surprising way of looking at our situation. Rather than being discouraged about this, he says that we are to stand firm in the midst of the fray. (Phil. 4:1)
The Battle Has Been Won
Why? Because we are in a battle that has already been won by Christ. He defeated sin and Satan the moment he died in our place, and then he ascended to sit on the throne. He is even now reigning in order to put his enemies under his feet. And that is happening, not simply in spite of all the things that seem to be going wrong, but through them. Let that sink in for a moment.
Jesus is reigning now. So the potential election of that politician you fear could actually be part of God’s plan. Jesus is allowing false teachers in the Church, and it will ultimately result in his glory. God is sovereign, even while the battle still rages. Even the lingering sin in your own heart will finally be overcome in glory in a display of his magnificent grace. Meanwhile, he is strong enough to subdue it and use your life to proclaim the good news.
Jesus has the power to subject all things to himself, which means they are coming under his sovereign rule. And one day he will come and destroy the very last enemy, death. He is the King who fights on behalf of his people and fights through his people. (Phil. 3:21; 1 Cor. 15:23-28)
So, when opposition to the gospel comes, plant your feet and hold your ground. Be courageous! Proclaim the good news, for many will believe. Today is theday of salvation, and he is able to bring that about. (2 Cor. 6:1-2) In the face of Christians who are walking unfaithfully, there’s no need to run in fear. Humbly speak the truth in love, because the gospel can change anyone. As you’re made aware of your own pride or lack of love, there’s no need for despair. Remember that there is grace - you are justified by faith! - so you can repent, be forgiven, and changed by the Spirit of God who dwells in you.
Your sovereign, good King has promised to never leave or forsake you or his work in the world until it is complete. Yes, you are in a battle, but victory has already been secured. And Jesus is coming again, so you can eagerly await the consummation of hope with certainty. On that day, the battle will be over, and you will rejoice in Christ’s victory with him! Until then, let’s stand firm.