A LITTLE HEAVEN ON EARTH
Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.
My first four years of my Christian experience was in a Christian community in Kerman, California. Those were very special times in my life, experiencing for myself the revelation of Christ in His church. One of my fondest memories was our Sunday night services. I can remember spending extended times of spontaneous worship, like Paul said, singing in the Spirit and singing with the understanding, all of us pouring out our hearts together to the Lord. This was what made this community special. It was this experiencing of Christ together as a family. What happened in those meetings was the very life of our fellowship. What came next was awesome, our lives had been joined together in this place of worship, the rest of our week was an opportunity to allow this life of God to be expressed through our life. Wuest has some reflections from today’s verse that describes the expression of this life in the real world.
“The use of this specialized word (politeuomai) colors the entire epistle, and gives to it a heavenly atmosphere. It teaches us that Christians are citizens of heaven, having a heavenly origin, and a heavenly destiny, with the responsibility of living a heavenly life on this earth in the midst of ungodly people and surroundings, telling sinners of a Saviour in heaven who will save them from their sins if they but trust Him. The ethics in the letter are invested with heavenly standards. The saints are reminded that as a colony of heaven, they are to live heavenly lives on earth, representing their Sovereign by a life which reflects Him. They are taught that obedience to the ethics of the Pauline epistles is not merely obedience to ethics as such, but involves a duty which they are responsible to discharge as citizens of a heavenly kingdom, and as subjects of a heavenly King.”
What I love about this passage is how Paul describes our behavior in a corporate way. He sees the Christian community living and working together in the midst of a crooked world. The supernatural life that we share as Christians begins to be seen in the life of the Christian community. Christ in us loves one another, loves the Kingdom of God, and lives His life through us publicly. So Paul is telling us to be mindful of our conduct, individually as well as corporately. How can I change my behavior? Our conduct, our very life flows out of that place of revelation found in the place of prayer and worship with our spiritual friends. So if you want to change your conduct, it might just start with that spiritual song.