Alex Enabnit – Research Editor
Today is a “whatever happens” kind of day. No, I’m not expressing apathy about the election – this is different. Let me explain.
Last night I was reading through the Word as part of my nightly routine. Some nights, I must admit, scripture doesn’t grab me with some new or unique thought. It reinforces what I know and helps preserve the foundation of Christ in my life. But this was not the case last night. No, I was smacked in the face by a verse that had somehow eluded me every other time. Reading through Philippians, I came across a statement that I just can’t get out of my mind:
“Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” Philippians 1:27a
Philippians is loaded with gems, but for some reason, this verse has never stood out to me before. But right now, in this season, and especially today, I feel like it is very applicable.
Paul wrote this letter to the Philippians – the church in Philippi. Although the city of Philippi was not in Italy, it still had the unique and coveted status of being a “colony.” This granted its citizens a lot of the perks provided by the Roman government. The Christians in this city believed in Jesus, but they were clearly appreciative of the rights they had as a part of the Roman Empire. Sound a bit familiar?
Paul knew this about the Philippians, so he called their attention to it with the words, “conduct yourselves.” In the original language, this translates to a political word that literally means “live as citizens.” The Philippians would have heard Paul saying, “Whatever happens, live as citizens worthy of the gospel of Christ.”
Paul is drawing attention to the fact that, as Christ followers, our citizenship is in the Kingdom of God (Phil 3:20). Sometimes, especially in these political seasons, it becomes easier to forget that ultimately our citizenship is in heaven. Does that mean we can’t appreciate the benefits of our worldly government? Does that mean we can’t have an opinion about our leadership? Does that mean we can’t vote? Of course not!
It means as soon as we elevate our value of or our hope in any governmental system or political party above the Kingdom, we are dethroning God in our lives. Once anything political gains a greater importance than the message and the mission of Christ, the church is wounded. It replaces the eternal hope that we have in Jesus for a counterfeit, flawed, and broken system. Simply put, this is idolatry, and it’s an especially bad trade.
What, then, are we supposed to do? I propose that we adopt a “whatever happens” mentality. I know many others that have already adopted this and I’m a firm supporter of it. It goes like this:
“In the event of _____, I will still live for Jesus.”
Yeah, it’s a simple phrase… Difficult to live out, but easy to remember. And the best part is, you can replace the blank with anything or any situation – good or bad. Feel free to try it!
No matter the results of the election, we are still called to conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. And although this phrase from Philippians 1:27 could stand on its own, Paul really emphasizes this in the context of “stand[ing] firm in one Spirit,” “striving together as one” (v.27b) – Paul encourages unity.
We can disagree politically or on any number of things, but as followers of Jesus we need to be united on the essentials. We desperately need to keep the main thing the main thing – that Jesus came to earth, lived a perfect life, died for our sins, and through him we have forgiveness, a secure hope in our future with God, eternity in heaven, and a life that’s actually worth living. We are called to unite around that truth and bring that truth to others.
That’s a message that will outlive this election and any to follow; that’s a message worth uniting over. Whatever happens, we have our duty first to the Kingdom and living the life that Jesus called us to live. Join me today, before or after you vote, in saying: