Encouragement to ‘stand firm’, in response to recent terrible events, based on Philippians 3:17-4:1 (Lent 2C).
We’ve heard two awful things recently, that George Pell abused children, and of the murder of 49 Muslims in NZ. How should we respond as Christians?
Scripture: Philippians 3:17-4:1
Paul has just cautioned believers: “For it is we … who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh— though I myself have reasons for such confidence.
If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.” Phil 3:3-6 (NIV)
Instead, Paul encourages the faithful to focus on the cross, Christ and heaven, and the transformation of our weak (willed) bodies in heaven.
Application: Stand Firm … in What?
Pell and the NZ killers had all fallen into the sin of pride. They had so much confidence in their strength, so much zeal for their beliefs. They did not fear God; we suspect they did not really know Him. They had way too much confidence in the flesh, i.e. their own desires and their power to apply them.
Contrast this with the disciples’ advice to us in the Bible:
- Paul: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,” Phil 2:3 (NIV);
- Peter: “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,” 1 Peter 3:15 (NIV); and
- James: “…human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” James 1:20 (NIV).
This is the opposite of the terrible things we’ve seen.
“Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends!” Phil 4:1 (NIV)
We don’t dare stand firm in anyone else, certainly not
 This is not a dig at the Roman Catholic church; no church, no institution, has been immune to abuse and abusers.