Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the three-year lectionary.
In our Epistle reading this week the apostle Paul urges the Philippians to imitate him. This passage opens a fearful set of possible misinterpretations. Are we to try to emulate our church leaders? How do we know if they should be imitated? What of the people who are only pursuing power? In light of recent publicity which points out the sinful stiving for selfish and dictatorial influence over others, resulting in all manner of abuse, we need to proceed with caution. We don’t follow churchly authorities blindly.
While Paul tells the Philippians to follow his pattern, and the patterns of others who are similar, he makes it crystal clear how he is different from the power of this world. In verse 19, the result of the bad examples’ life is destruction. They have raised their own desires to the level of a god. Their minds are on earthly, not heavenly things. Those who are headed for destruction have pursued the things of this life only. They are trying to live in the moment, rather than considering eternity.
Sadly, there is a movement within contemporary Christianity which urges living “in the now.” It would say that true spirituality is momentary. It is also elusive. The fact is, rejecting the past and taking no thought to the future is normally seen as irresponsible and unhealthy. Much of what makes society work is an awareness of the possible consequences of our actions.
Paul is not speaking to such a radical departure. He is, however, cuationing against considering only the self and the temporal. He says there is a much better thing for the Christian. We have a heavenly citizenship, eternal and trustworthy. For this, we wait as Christ prepares to change us into His image, out of our image. This is his way of giving us a glory we wouldn’t even imagine ourselves. Yet it is where we are to stand. As we see our leaders walking in this way of glory, we imitate them. Their desire is heavenly, likewise their calling. They will lead us to hope on Christ.
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