‘Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.’ Philippians 1.27
This sounds a bit daunting! It can conjure up a picture of an inspector following us around with a clipboard, checking to see if we really are conducting ourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel! The truth is that we are all probably only too aware of the times when we do not live up to this calling, and instead fail to show love or lose our temper. However, the good news about this verse is that it is not about a set of rules and regulations that we are meant to follow, but is about the attitude that underpins our lives.
So what is this gospel that is meant to shape our lives? It involves recognising that we are forgiven sons and daughters of the living God, and the wonder of this truth is what we are called to exhibit. What does it mean to live as one who is forgiven? It means that we need not, and indeed should not, brood over our past sins and failings because Jesus died to take them from us and lay them upon himself. He did this so that we would be free from them. If we actually lived as people who have been set free from our pasts we would probably have far more impact on those around us than living as people struggling to obey rules that bring us no joy whatsoever.
Jesus gave his very life in order that you might be free from your past, so resolve to live in a manner that proclaims this truth.
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The Revd John Ryeland, Director of The Christian Healing Mission