Shine Right Where You Are
I love the book of Philippians. It is my favorite of all of Paul’s letters, maybe with a close second to the book of Romans, and Galatians and Hebrews (if Paul wrote Hebrews). In Philippians I find joy, hope, direction, encouragement and purpose. In the book of Philippians I find the truth of who Jesus Christ was and is and will be, and the heart of the reason to choose Him, love Him and serve Him. In that same book I’ve found my life verse, as well as the motivation to keep pressing on to “work out my salvation”. In Philippians I find the priorities for life and a reminder that this faith we claim is to govern all – our hearts and our minds, our actions and our passions. Yet, the world we live in tells us to seek a different set of values – to value, fame and fortune above humility and servanthood. And, when I hold this book up next to a newspaper I am overwhelmed by how far apart the two are.
On the day I am writing this blog the news has been reporting about the terrorist attack in Manchester England at the Ariana Grande concert. So many killed and injured only because evil hates, destroys and kills. While on the other end of the spectrum Jesus Christ holds out love and hope and life. And for a minute I am confused as to why people don’t run to Jesus Christ. Maybe, along with all the other things this small book does, it offers a bit of insight as to the problem. Obviously the bottom line is that Satan will go to any length to keep people away from the Kingdom of Heaven. That has happened and will continue to happen as long as we are in this age of waiting on Christ’s return. But I want to ask the question, am I playing any part in helping Satan accomplish his goal? Again, my favorite book is able to help me out a bit….listen to the teaching; “ Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.” (2:14-16a NIV) We, as God’s children have an opportunity to shine. The very first NIV version said shine like stars in the universe. The ESV version reads; shine as lights in the world. No matter the translation you are using we have an opportunity, no, it’s an obligation to shine wherever we are, to be something different from the world around us. To be noticeably set apart from this warped and crooked generation. And here is the key from this teaching – our ability to shine comes as we forbid grumbling and arguing to be a part of who we are. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I am not so good at forbidding these things from festering with in. Each of us must evaluate our own lives.
To shine in this world, this precious little book teaches us that we need to be focusing on the right things, not the negative things. Listen again to its teaching; “ Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” (4:8-9 NIV)
If we want to be a part of the solution to the war against evil, we would do well to shine right where we are, end the grumbling and arguing that comes from our own hearts and mediate on God’s word and the things that will lead to right thinking.
May you shine as stars in the universe.