Follow the Example

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. – Philippians 4:13.

Sharon had a terrible week, which began when someone attacked her with spray paint. Soon after that Sharon was kidnapped; however, she was found safe a day later. Now, Sharon has learned that she is in violation of a city ordinance and will have to move. Who is Sharon? Sharon is a seven-month-old goat who has been the mascot of the Sigma Chi fraternity at Southeast Missouri State University. It is a violation of a city ordinance to have barnyard animals living inside the city limits.

Even for a goat, Sharon had a horrific week, but even if Sharon was a human being, we would not have been that surprised to have heard the news about it. Because terrible things and even more horrific things happen to people all the time. We are bombarded with the bad news on a continual basis of all those bad things that occur so very frequently.

The threat of all of this bad news and terrible things that we hear about to the average person is that we will begin to believe that we are next. Because we begin to believe that we are next and that something ugly could happen to us we will curtail, and reduce our activities. Believing that around the next corner could be a threat to our life, family, or property we become more and more cautious.

What does this have to do with living the Christian life? As Christians, we are called to go (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8), to be ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20), to reflect the light of our Lord into the darkness around us (Matthew 5:14-16), and to be vocal and active enough to restrain evil by preserving the good that is present in this world (Matthew 5:13). So, it is imperative for the fulfillment of every Christian’s mission, purpose, and call, not to be deterred by the activity of our enemy, the corruptness of this world, and the weakness of our flesh.

The nourishment of our spiritual lives is a vital necessity to overcome the bad things happening all around us to the extent that we continue with our mission of living the Christian life effectively. Maintaining continual contact with, and input from our Lord is vital. Only through His power can we persist in living as we should. The apostle Paul describes how the Lord empowered him to live by saying, “…for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:11-13).” Paul is thought to have been in prison in Rome as he wrote those words. Prior to that time, Paul had experienced all kinds of terrible things. Paul had been beaten, stoned (left for dead), put into stocks, jailed, shipwrecked, and bitten by a snake.

You may be thinking that an apostle ought to be able to do those things and go through those things, but you are just an ordinary Christian. Here’s what Paul told the Philippians, and I believe God would tell you through Paul today: “Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern (Philippians 3:17).” Through Christ Jesus let us move forward fulfilling the Great Commission, being Ambassadors for Christ, bringing light to the darkness of this world, and preserving all that is good.

(The apostle Paul has left us an example of how we can live effectively as Christians.)

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