Life is tough for many right now. Jobs have been lost, hours have been cut, all around us there is fear and uncertainty. Some say stay home, others have “had enough.” Some preach social distancing and tough it out while others herald “liberate” and “open up” because our liberty is being taken away.
As Christians we either react or respond to pressures of life.
We react when we are guided by emotion. We often don’t stop to think any more than the reflex when a small rubber hammer hits our knee. Reactions are often simply habitual – it’s how we have always acted.
Responding has to do with a well thought out, biblical reply. We know what we desire, but our response is in line with the truth of Scripture. We make a conscious decision to submit our thinking to the truth by taking reactionary thoughts captive to obey Christ (2 Corinthians 10:3-6).
With that in mind, I encourage you to be careful how you walk, not as unwise, but as wise. In a situation similar to what we are facing right now, Paul wrote to the Philippian church, giving them instructions on how they should respond biblically and not simply react.
“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. (Philippians 2:12-16)
Paul was unjustly in prison by the government. Paul wrote Philippians at a time when he was suffering greatly, at a time when he wondered if he might soon be killed by the government. Paul’s friends are deeply concerned knowing he is imprisoned awaiting trial. How is he faring? Would this imprisonment have an adverse effect on the progress of the gospel? Paul responds elsewhere in Philippians that he is confident and that, surprisingly, his imprisonment has led to the advance of the gospel.
And, the Philippian church were themselves facing persecution from those outside the church.
Paul is exhorting the Philippians to be blameless and innocent during their trials. He admits that they are in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation. And he hopes that they will be lights in the world around them. How will the world see them as lights?
The evidence of that would be a lack of grumbling and complaining.
They, and we, understand that our “salvation” from the virus is not government. It is interesting that Paul is not calling for insurrection, rebellion or protest (he never does anywhere in Scripture). Paul is asking us to check our hearts and to mimic Jesus.
And in this, Paul gives no qualification or condition.