Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that …. you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel (Philippians 1:27 ESV)
The believers at Philippi were faced by the political power of the Roman empire, and by the ideological power of a multi-religious system that puts our western ‘pluralism’ in the shade! How daunting the task; how terrifying the opposition! In this letter from prison Paul had written of Defending the gospel (1:7), of Proclaiming it (1:18), now of Exhibiting it. This happens when Christians are seen to be:
1. STANDING IN UNITY. It is ‘the faith of the gospel’ that holds even the most culturally diverse group of believers together. After leading a 12,000-strong service of the Lord’s Supper at the ‘Amsterdam 2000’ event, I found myself afterwards hugged by bearded Argentinians, costumed Nigerians, smiling Malaysians! It was the biblical gospel that was holding us; nothing else.
2. STANDING IN ADVERSITY. Those Philippians were exhorted to continue ‘without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you’ (1:28). Suffering is, remarkably, something that is ‘granted’ to us by the once-crucified Christ (1:29). To stand by each other, prayerfully and practically, is to provide the world with an exhibition.
3. STANDING IN HUMILITY. Rivalry and conceit were to be banished, and so was overriding self-interest (2:3,4). Such humility of spirit always draws observers strongly towards the magnetism of Christ, and his example (2:5-11).
If the gospel has a hold on your church, you may not realise it, but Christ will be exhibited among you, to the whole area.