“It has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him.” — Philippians 1:29
In our Scripture for today, the apostle Paul is not sure whether he will be able to visit his readers in Philippi. But “whatever happens,” he says, “conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” Accepting the gift of faith in Christ means more than having a reservation in heaven. God calls us into an eternal relationship with consequences.
The life of the believer is not designed to be one of leisure or merely looking forward to an eternal reward. We’re here on a mission, chosen by God to do his will and his work in this world. We must realize that this is serious business. It’s more than holding to certain beliefs to escape total destruction. It’s a way of life calling for sacrifice. It may include suffering. Living for Christ can be costly!
Paul experienced joy as he shared the gospel, but he also endured painful rejection and physical suffering. Following Jesus is a call to obedience, a discipleship of duty. Conducting ourselves in a “manner worthy of the gospel of Christ” means serving him in all areas of life, no matter what consequences we might face. It applies every hour, every day.
Being given an opportunity to suffer for Jesus sounds unusual. And yet it’s a gift. We have to experience it before we can understand. Are we willing?