Striving Together

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.

Philippians 1:27-28

In a way, these verses, for me, bring together so much of what I was learning during our church’s trip to Vietnam. When I think of the time our team spent together, looking at the bible in the mornings and learning about God’s work in Vietnam throughout the days, these are the verses that jump out to me.

Let’s take a second and break it down, what is Paul asking the Philippians to do? Conduct themselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. But what does that mean? What manner is worthy of the gospel of Christ? Paul unravels this command in his following sentence…

‘Then… 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.’

He is asking the church in Philippi, and in turn is asking us, to…

stand firm in the one Spirit Meaning that, as Christians, we are one in Christ and have all been give the Holy Spirit, and should therefore stand united, for division would not take place unless this truth was ignored.

strive together as one – Paul is praying for the bond between the members of the church family to grow. He is asking them to serve one another, to look to the needs of others before the needs of themselves, to be there for one another in suffering and to keep building each other up, helping each other along.

strive together for the faith the gospel – He is calling for an active response to the gospel. He is calling them to place the good news of Jesus Christ at the centre of their lives. As he describes to them his imprisonment, he models this command, urging those of the Philippian church to work, in everything, for the furthering of the gospel.

not be frightened in any way by those who oppose you – We are reminded that the battle has already been won. We are comforted in the face of persecution and suffering, just as the Philippians were reminded that the trials and troubles they faced were normal, and not outside the Christian experience.

It’s beautiful how God teaches us both through his word and through our lives. As we read Paul’s letter to the Philippians, we, the team, were given a beautiful image of what it means to strive together as one for the faith of the gospel, in the companionship between one of the missionaries we met and a local Vietnamese believer.
In Vietnam, we spoke a lot about the idea of ‘gospel partnership’. A bond based on being children of God, brothers and sisters in Christ. The unity of God’s people through their faith and their desire to share this faith and welcome others into God’s family.

We saw this lived out in the missionary and his friend. It was through the witness of the missionary that the Vietnamese individual heard about Jesus. It was the missionary that had shared the gospel with him, and the missionary who had stood by him and helped him to grow as he faced the challenges that arose on him becoming a Christian. In turn, the missionary had learnt so much from him. If it had not been for this individual, it may have been so much harder for the missionary we met to interact with those that he lived among. There are many languages across the provinces of Vietnam, many traditions and cultures. And it was from this new believer that the missionary was able to understand the lives of many that he sought to share God’s love with. They learnt from one another, and in this they grew together, encouraging one another in their faith, the bond between them was strong.

They had grown up on different sides of the world, had spoke in different languages, had known different cultures and had been brought up with different outlooks on life. And yet, all these barriers had been broken away, they were brothers in Christ and that was what mattered.

One afternoon we travelled with the them to the family of the Vietnamese man who had welcomed us into his home during our stay in Northern Vietnam, and their companionship became particularly striking to me then…

Thursday 17th August – Diary Entry

It’s a wonderful thing to hear God’s name praised in a language other than our own. We watched as they told the family about Jesus, watched as they spoke of the Bible in a language different to our own. In this family’s mother tongue, the missionary shared the gospel. And in the same local language, his Vietnamese brother gave his testimony. And in this language they prayed for the family. They spoke in one of the many tongues that will one day be singing praise to God in heaven. To the God who came down into this world, who died in our place, who is reaching out to every tribe and tongue and nation, and is bringing his children home.