In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.
Friday, 20 December 2013
Living in Difficult Situations (Philippians 1:12-20)
Sometimes, we read passages in the Bible and sense that they deal with matters that do not concern us immediately. These passages may describe situations in which a believer was in circumstances that we have never been in ourselves. Probably, this passage is one such segment because we have never been in prison for the faith. When we encounter such passages, there are at least four responses that we should make.
First, we should realise that there are believers somewhere who are experiencing this difficulty, and this passage contains details that we should pray with regard to these believers. So we should pray for the persecuted church that these believers would know the comfort of the gospel and be given the strength to remain faithful to Christ until they are released.
Second, we should be thankful for those believers in the past who endured such troubles in order for the faith to be handed on to us. Among them are the apostle Paul and his friends (out of his first Roman imprisonment came several books of the New Testament: Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians). We should read the accounts of the martyrs of the early church as well as the heroes of the faith in our own country, particularly at the Reformation and at the Covenanting period.
Third, we should remind ourselves that we may yet be in a similar situation. There are pressures coming in our society that will discriminate against Christians if these pressures develop in certain ways. It may become illegal to oppose other religions, to evangelise people of other faiths, with the threat of civil punishment for those that do so. The emphasis on imposed tolerance, with its stress that we must accept other people’s diversities, even when they are clearly forbidden by the Bible, could also result in civil punishment. Therefore, we should note what Paul’s priorities were, and pray that they would become ours before our own possible difficulties arrive.
Fourth, we can look at Paul’s example and learn from his situation important principles for us to emulate in our own lives. We will look at some of them in coming days.