Dave Black is back home in the farmlands of southern Virginia after spending a few days at the seminary here in North Carolina. And, since he’s back home, he’s blogging. And, since he’s blogging, he’s challenging me (and others) to follow Jesus Christ “in word and deed” (to quote Paul, James, and John).
This time, Dave is talking about his New Testament class’s discussion of Paul’s letter to the Philippians. Specifically, he wrote about the “descent-ascent” (down is up) motif found in Philippians 2:5-11 (and Philippians 2:1-4?).
This is what he said (on Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 5:50 p.m.):
I obviously don’t have all the answers, but I am blown away by the patterns we find in this passage. When Jesus poured Himself out He founded a radical new community. He didn’t set up a new program but modeled a new way of living that showed us what the kingdom looks like. If you look at the early church you cannot help but be struck by the impact made by the Holy Spirit as He transformed the apostles and their followers into other-centered servants. Little wonder their churches had such an impact. Their mutual interaction showed Christian love in action, and there is nothing more attractive for the Gospel than that. Each year I have the privilege of traveling to countries where the church is truly salt in the midst of a disintegrating society, not (as in the U.S.) a pious subculture of conformity. Everything — every single thing! — we do should reflect Christ’s self-abnegating spirit.
In a nutshell, reading Philippians is downright dangerous. It can easily get you into trouble. You will no longer be able to depersonalize the poor or needy of this world or shift your responsibility for global evangelization onto someone else’s shoulders. Your lives will begin to shout the Gospel. And, as Phil. 2:5-11 shows, it’s definitely a story worth telling.
I keep being struck by the image of those early Christians, changed by the Holy Spirit and demonstrating the love of Christ in action to their family, friends, neighbors, strangers, foreigners, even their enemies. This “love in action” is what first attracted people to the gospel. This “love in action” was a demonstration that what these people were saying was true.
Our lives should be a demonstration that the gospel (we say) we believe in is, in fact, true.