A really bad comedic movie from the 80s featured a couple of hapless guys who fawned over their hero, chanting, “I’m not worthy. I’m not worthy.” When it comes to being worthy of the love of God, of our place in his family and service in his Kingdom, let’s face it. We could all be chanting, “I’m not worthy!” Paul, the Apostle of grace, nevertheless encouraged the Philippians to conduct themselves in a worthy manner:
Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel without being frightened by those who oppose you. Philippians 1:27-28a
The “whatever happens” phrase carries life and death import for Paul. He has just described the two possible paths he is facing: to live (opportunity to serve God and others); to die (to be with Jesus face to face). So his encouragement to the Philippians says something about its dearness to his heart. His legacy, the torch he would pass, is their unity for the sake of the faith (trust in) the gospel. To Paul, of course, the gospel is not a set of homilies or rules to live by in order to be good enough for God—the gospel according to Paul is acknowledging that none of us is good enough, repenting of our old way of life, accepting the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, resulting in walking in newness of life. By his own example, this gospel is worth dying for. Everything else is trivia.
It is so easy for us to turn on one another when we are meant, as fellow believers and brothers and sisters in Christ, to have one another’s backs. Your fellow believer is not the enemy, though you will certainly differ in many preferences and probably even some doctrines. Jesus said the defining characteristic of his followers should be love. It is true that abounding love finds its roots in deep knowledge of the Word (and God’s heart). But knowledge without love is like a sounding gong or a clanging cymbal—so much noise.
Believers united in purpose (in spite of millions of less important differences) are an unstoppable force. Jesus said of such a church, that the gates of hell would not prevail against it. When the enemy can lob a grenade into the church and get us to throw one another onto it, he walks away smiling. When we love one another as Christ loves us, he quakes in his proverbial boots.
Come what may, let’s conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Let others know that we stand firm on one spirit, contending fearlessly as one man for the faith of the gospel. In so doing we will be salt and light in a dark and tasteless world. And Christ will be honored. Isn't that a worthy cause?