Go read Philippians 1:27-30. Now reread vs. 28.
Normally we quote from the NIV on this blog, but sometimes other translations simply put things better. Philippians 1:28 (NASB) – “in no way alarmed by your opponents.”
Yesterday we talked about accepting, contending for and standing firmly united in the mission of Jesus on this earth. As you do so, you WILL experience opponents. It’s not a question of “if?” – it’s a question of “when?”
<> What opponents have you met because you were living in a manner worthy of the gospel?
<> What is your reaction when you meet opposition?
The surprising thing is the massive variety of forms that opponents can come in. Matt talked about traditions, ideas, ourselves and satan. Let me translate what that means – the entire rhythm in which you were raised and trained can be against you. External mentally stimulating, new ideas can be against you. Internal desires, thoughts, weaknesses, pride, laziness and temptations can be against you. AND there is a personal external opponent masterminding all of it named satan. Anybody excited yet?
Traditions can be incredibly hard to see because we are so used to them that we don’t even notice them. Traditions can be like a bad boyfriend who even though he beats us, we don’t remember what life is like without him so we just stick out with him. Comfort can kill us.
<> What are traditions that you obey and adhere to without having studied the Scripture to check for their validity?
<> Have you ever taken time to go through Scripture and analyze what you believe like Matt encouraged us to?
External ideas are generally easier to see because they are things that we disagree with. The danger here is that some proponents are incredible thinkers and orators and can trick and confuse you EASILY if you are not well-grounded in the Word (Eph. 4:14). Something to be wary of in America right now is the idea of “intellectual tyranny.” Essentially it is the idea that academically, all spiritual notions are foolish and should be mocked. Purely scientific explanations are the only reasonable explanations. That’s not true, and someday God will show people who believe that how foolish they are.
<> What external ideas are attacking your faith in Jesus?
<> Are you building a foundation in the Word that the best orators in the world can’t shake?
Internal ideas are hard because “if I feel it, it must be true.” No, my friend, that is not the case. There are thoughts, ideas and desires that come out of you AND that are bad for you. Go read James 4:1-4 and Romans 7:15-20.
<> What internal desires and ideas are hindering you from knowing Jesus intimately?
What I love about the NASB translation of this verse is the word alarmed. This may just be a personal pet peeve, but I get really aggravated by Christians who are extremely alarmed by the world. I think it reminds me of my own sheltered upbringing. Let's just all agree on something: the world is a dark place. The darkness goes further and deeper and is more pervasive than we can probably imagine. My heart is that you would stay pure and unblemished by this darkness as you learn to walk in holiness following Jesus.
If you are constantly being alarmed by your opponents, you are probably walking around with your eyes completely closed to the hurting, broken, dieing world all around you. The truth of the matter is that we need to be learning to walk in an intricate balance: 1.) We understand the weight of sin in our own lives and in the lives of others. The weight of sin is that it put Jesus on the cross and is disgusting, destructive and ultimately separates us from Him! AND 2.) We need to be completely unsurprised by the fact that people sin. It's our expectation of fallen broken humanity. The life of Jesus and His cross teach us that He isn't afraid or alarmed or surprised by sin. He faces it head on.
<> Are you constantly alarmed, offended and closing yourself off to the darkness of the world?
<> How can you keep yourself pure from sin while being able to keep your eyes open to the darkness of our opponents?