Monday, February 24, 2014

All Things

~Tracy Frederick

It is probably the most well-known scripture, along with John 3:16. We see it on the backs of football uniforms, posted on Facebook, splattered on bumper stickers and even etched into under eye make-up, or shoe polish…or whatever that stuff is that football players put under their eyes. I have even heard it used in conjunction with losing weight. I imagine that if we asked people, even atheists to tell us a scripture they know, this would be in the top five or three. It is popular, but the way I see it used I wonder if the person understands the struggle and personal sacrifice this verse speaks of to gain the strength needed to endure “all things.” So, …quote it with me…you know it: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” It is that “all things” part that is the sticky one. All things, huh? Well, we’ll see….

It is in this first chapter that sets the tone and the purpose for that popular one verse everyone is wearing:
v. 27-30: “Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God.  For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me.”

Philippians, especially as of late, has become my go-to book. It instructs me to love no matter what; to endure no matter what; and to not let my own petty problems make me forget that my Savior gave up “all things” in heaven for us (Phil 2:7-8: made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even death on the cross”).  Philippians is a hard book, it is about standing strong in the midst of suffering and hardships for Christ- those “things.” Paul promises that true believers (obedient in all things- Acts 2:38, Rom 6:4, I Pet. 3:21, Col 2:12, Rom 4:20, Rev 2:10), in Philippi (or anywhere/anytime) will never have a ticker tape parade for the cause of Christ, will never be given accolades on the football field for the goals of the gospel, and household chores, sparkling white whites are of no concern in bringing glory to God. That’s not “all things.” Christ revealed to Paul “all things” that he would suffer (see Acts 9).

So, once again the question is a tough one:  what “things” do we “do” that need “strengthening” (or “enable/make strong”)? Football/sports “things?” Tough laundry stain “things?” Sounds ludicrous when we put it that way, doesn’t it? So…what is it? What I love about the Bible is the way it answers questions about itself. Did you notice the opening of the book, in the first chapter? “let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ…steadfast in the spirit…striving for the faith of the gospel….not terrified by your adversaries…suffer for His sake….” Yeah, “allll of those “things.” That is what Christ will strengthen us for, “all of the things” that are worthy of suffering.” After all, if we aren’t suffering for the sake of our Lord, how can I call myself worthy of “all of the things” He sacrificed and suffered for me? I admit that I hope we need strengthening in “all things”…don’t you? It means we are suffering to be worthy in “all things.”

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