Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God. For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.
We are always Christians. No matter where we go or if we can’t go anywhere at all. No matter what we are doing or what activities we are no longer allowed to do. No matter who we interact with or who we must be separated from for a time. In every situation, every moment, all day, every day: we are Christians, followers of Jesus, people who belong to Christ and bear His name. That’s why it is so important that we act, think and treat others “in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.”
Paul faced intense persecution and suffering, and he knew his friends in the Philippian church were enduring a difficult time as well. They were being opposed by people who rejected the message of Jesus and ridiculed by many in the culture around them. Life was getting hard, but that was no excuse for anger or bitterness or hateful actions toward people who hated them.
During stressful times, we are more likely to do and say things we will later regret, things that are inconsistent with our usual character. Fear and anxiety bring out the worst in us, which is why we need this reminder that we are always Christians and have to do our best always to act like it. Jesus tells us to pray for those who persecute us and to turn the other cheek and to love our neighbors even if they are different from us or difficult to love. Jesus asks us to conduct ourselves in these ways because that was how He conducted himself. And we are always Christians, those who live like Christ.
Jesus, help me to live as You lived and to love people the way You did. Give me strength to endure the hardships of life with faith, hope and love. Lord, bless Your world with mercy, healing and peace. Send Your church with words and actions of love that will draw people to Yourself. I love You and pray in Your name. Amen.