Philippians 3:17-20 Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you. For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Saviour from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, …
Perhaps the saddest thing about Paul’s words here is that they refer to people who had made a profession of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and had joined in the fellowship of his Church, most probably having been baptised as a public profession of their commitment to Christ.
As I reflect on this, I think about Jesus’ parable of the sower (Matthew 13:3-9, 18-23), and particularly his reference to the man who “hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful.” (22). The fact that Jesus predicted that there would be such people, and that Paul could identify them even in the earliest days of the NT Church, should be a clear warning to us of the dangers of failing to take the discipline of our discipleship seriously.
Let us all reflect deeply on the Apostle’s urgent word to the Christians in Rome: “Therefore, I URGE you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. DO NOT CONFORM ANY LONGER to the pattern of this world, but BE TRANSFORMED by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:1-2).
It is too easy to succumb to the constant pressure on all of us through the various media (social-, electronic-, printed-, etc), media that are driven by people with a secular, humanistic, militant atheistic worldview. The insidious influence of this is so subtle that we may not even be aware of what is happening to the way we see things, and the way our whole culture is changing. Think about how our great-grandparents would react to things WE watch on television without even blinking at the pictorial portrayal of ‘accepted’ blatant immodesty and immorality.
If we claim, by God’s grace, to be ‘citizens of heaven’ who are ‘eagerly await[ing] a Saviour from there, the Lord Jesus Christ’, do our lives, in thought, word and action, accurately portray our true citizenship as we interact with a society that is persistently being brainwashed into ‘writing us off’ and belittling us as old-fashioned and irrelevant? May we never allow ourselves to be seen as ‘ENEMIES of the cross of Christ’!