The Real Message of Philippians
Tonight at Bethel Hill we will begin a 4-week series on the book of Philippians, led by brother Joel. Philippians, Paul's "joyful letter," was written to help Christians deal with division and disunity, often caused by carnality and personality differences. Above all, we divide when do not share the same spiritual priorities. Philippians was written with a view toward Christians who mean business with God and who are prepared to put first things first (the Gospel).
The Philippian church was riddled with factions and rent by cliques. Unable to get along with each other, they took refuge in the alibi that unity was not really all that important. The fact is, their priority system was faulty. During WW II, our national leaders had a lot to say about "hyphenated Americans," German-Americans, for example, whose loyalty was divided between Germany and the U.S.
Too many churches today have become hyphenated because their loyalty is divided between the Gospel and something else. We talk glibly about "God and country." Or else our loyalty is first of all to "our church" and then to the universal kingdom of God. We place temporal value on eternal things and eternal value on temporal things, like padded pews and lush carpets. Please don't misunderstand me. I'm not calling for perfect Christians. Neither is the apostle Paul (see Phil. 3:12 ff.). There are no perfect Christians, but there can be undivided loyalty.
The real message of Philippians is not about joy. It's about priorities, about what comes first and foremost in our lives. "The only thing that matters," says Paul, "is that you live together as good citizens of heaven in a way that the Gospel of Christ requires" (1:27).
And that, my friend, leaves no place for hyphenated Christians.
August 10, 2011
David Alan Black is the editor of www.daveblackonline.com.