This Sunday's Message, Pastor John took the Rock through a Bible study of Philippians 2:12-16.
He began telling a story of his recent mission trip with his friend Dave Mustaine who is the lead singer and guitarist of the heavy metal band Megadeth who had become a believer three years ago. Pastor John went on Megadeth's most recent tour to be there for Dave as he endured the rock and roll life as a new Christian.
Through his experience on tour with Dave, Pastor John noted something that is important for Christians to keep in mind when it comes to living life the way God has called us to. That is, as Paul writes in his letter to the Philippians, that Christians are to be the light that shines brightly in a crooked and perverse generation.
Paul often writes in his epistles comparing the Christian life to that of a race or a game.
Hebrews 12:1 says, Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin, which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.
Acts 20:24 states, Nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry, which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.
There are five specific ingredients Pastor John covered that are essential to the race we must run as Christians who are to shine like a light.
Therefore, Be Humble
Whenever the word therefore appears in a passage of scripture it is important to look at the previous scriptures to see how the passages connect. Philippians 2:12 states, Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
Pastor John led us back to Philippians 2:5-11 to obtain a greater understanding as to what Paul meant in Philippians 2:12-16. These verses describe the humility of Jesus and what He went through enduring the cross for our sake.
He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Philippians 2:8
Jesus is our perfect model of humility. Humbleness is necessary to working out our salvation. This doesn't mean that we must work for our salvation by striving to be humble, but rather as a result of our salvation we ought to maintain a humble attitude always.
Know You Are Greatly Loved
Another key part of truly living the Christian life, and being the light that shines is that we must understand the depth of love that Christ has for us. He calls us His beloved. Until we understand the depth of the love He has for us, in times of despair or temptation it will be so easy to fall back into the sin that so quickly entangles us.
1 John 3:1 states, How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!
We cannot trust in or rely upon our own selves; instead we must full rely on the love God graciously gives us and by doing so our lives will reflect that love.
Obedience, the Main Ingredient
As seen above, Paul writes in Philippians 2:12 that the Philippians were to be obedient as they always were. Obedience should be an automatic result of the Christian life.
Pastor John mentioned of his friend Dave that after spending 22 years living the rock and roll life, and then making the decision to follow Christ, his behavior was different and the change in his lifestyle was very obvious especially considering his environment.
Though when we believe in Christ our life should change, we must remember that in and of ourselves we cannot do it. If we try to keep the law on our own we will fail. The law does not fix or change us; it only reveals that we fall short.
It is like looking in a mirror first thing in the morning. We see our messed up hair and unwashed face but the mirror itself cannot fix those things. It can't comb our hair or wash our face, however, it revealed to us that is what needs to be done.
Unlike the law, or the mirror, Jesus fixes us. His word reveals to us what needs to be fixed in us, and He provides us with the ability and strength to make the necessary changes. We aren't to work at salvation, but work from it. Jesus died for our sins, which is our salvation, and we must go from there and obey the Lord in everything.
Understanding Personal Responsibility
It is easy to act holy when people are watching, but Paul commands the Philippians to do likewise even in his absence. Since humility, knowing we are God's beloved children, and obedience are all necessary ingredients to the Christian life, we cannot forget the personal responsibility we have to work at living this out, knowing also that it is God who works in us both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Philippians 2:13
We are not God's robots. We must take responsibility for our actions and run the race as He calls us to, with our primary dependence on Him and His word.
Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 11:1, Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ. Paul understood the personal responsibility he had to work out his salvation with fear and trembling through obedience and humility.
Think to yourself can I say that? Is my life holy and blameless that I may say to my brothers and sisters in Christ to live like me, because I live like Christ?
Understanding the Consequences of Sin
The last ingredient that is necessary to run the race is to understand the consequences of sin. Patterns of sin can become an instrument of God's wrath that results in the discipline of those He loves.
Hebrews 12:5-6 states, My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves.
Our flesh desires everything that is contrary to the will of God. We were born into sin, and it is inevitable that we will sin again. However, Christ forgives us of our sins and cleanses us from all our unrighteousness. We must submit to the Lordship of Christ, and the Lord's discipline will have value and meaning, and we will learn from it and through it.
Pastor John told a story of a time when he was leaving his sixteen year old son home alone. He gave his son a simple warning that really is important for all Christians to keep in mind no matter what situation they are facing, and that is not to fall prey to the temptation of the devil but instead that we fall and pray when the temptation does come.
Just like when we are kids our parents discipline us for our wrong doings, we must expect the same as a result of our sin.
But I Don't Feel Like It
It is easy to make excuses as to why we can't or won't do something. If we remember back to the beginning of the book of Exodus, Moses had five excuses for God as to why he couldn't confront Pharaoh. We also saw the Israelites wander through the wilderness grumbling and complaining not trusting God to meet their needs.
Philippians 2:14 states, Do all things without complaining and disputing.
We may not feel like it and we may have all the excuses as to why we can't do it, but God calls us to live in such a way that we become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom we shine as lights in the world. Philippians 2:15
Therefore, we cannot let an attitude of complaining consume us, but rather an attitude of humility and obedience, that we can therefore live above reproach where no accusation can be thrown against us. We never know what kind of influence we may have in living this way.
Because Dave Mustaine of Megadeth was a light shining to the world around him, the band that opened for Megadeth in their most recent tour decided to trash an album they had just written of anger filled lyrics because of the influence Dave had on them, to rewrite a new album.
This Little Light of Mine
We all remember the Sunday school song in which we sang, this little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine it's a song that can flow out of our hearts even today. Paul's main concern in this section of Philippians was that the race he was running would not be ran in vain or labored in vain. Have you labored in vain? Is your light shining?
As Christmas has ended and the new year is upon us, will you decide to be the light that shines in a crooked and perverse generation? We may never know what our Christian influence is going to do, so we must resolve to run the race keeping in mind the five key ingredients necessary to produce in us an active Christian life in which we are the light unto the world.