“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” Philippians 4:8 (NLT)
In the 8th chapter of John’s Gospel, we’ll see Jesus having it out with those wacky Pharisees. Without going into depth, it’s pretty clear that these strict observers of the traditional and written Law don’t want Jesus to be the Light of the World, the Son of Man or to be from above. Simply put, “He said to them, “You are from beneath; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world.” (John 8:23) And by the time this discourse had run its course, the Pharisees will seek to stone Jesus simply because He will remind them, “before Abraham was, I AM.” (John 8:58)
One of the most important things Jesus wanted to point out to these strict observers of the traditional and written Law was that what they were doing wasn’t bringing freedom to God’s chosen people but that they were putting rings in the noses of His people and pulling them around like oxen. Do this but don’t do that, give this but don’t give that, go this far but go no farther and all the while they themselves were enjoying the little spoils they received from the Roman Empire. After all, this was their little piece of turf, so don’t you tread upon it.
We’re at a really crazy moment in history and things aren’t looking too good for Christendom. We’ve enjoyed a certain amount of liberty but we haven’t experienced much in the way of persecution. A lot of us are behaving like the Pharisees and instead of embracing the moment to make us strong we’ve become preoccupied with defending our little piece of turf. After all, this is our Promised Land, don’t you dare tread upon it!! It’s in this that I think we’ve lost the main thing in The Main Thing. Let’s go to Philippians 4.
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
Ya see, back then the Pharisees, Scribes and Sadducees weren’t just worried about losing their place in the social order…they didn’t wanna lose The Temple. Granted, Jesus called everyone out one day. “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves.” (Luke 19:46) and then proceeded to whip it real good and I don’t believe EVERY one of them had a poisoned viewpoint of the Coming Messiah (can you say Nicodemus?). However, they didn’t just turn The Temple into a den of thieves…they made it their identity. They needed everyone else to fall into line or else the iron fist of Rome would take it from them (which they did in 70 A.D.). I think this is where Christendom stands today. Why?
We don’t wanna lose our 501C’s that come with the church building? We’re not gonna be able to write off our tithes on our taxes? The pseudo “moral code” that we preach to society will be silenced? Did you notice that in those questions I failed to mention losing Jesus? Yeah, wanna know why? Because if our confession about Him is true then we understand that He’s promised to never leaves or forsake us. Sometimes I just think we’re having a problem taking Him at His word because of recent events taking place in Secularland.
Ya see, we can’t practice Kingdom principles with a democratic mindset. It would be really, really, great if we could but it just can’t be. Ya know, the early church had it pretty bad once it started to gain momentum. They couldn’t practice Kingdom principles with a Roman mindset but they still found their freedom in Christ. Yeah, they may have been turned in human torches but their testimony remained intact.
The stuff we find in Philippians 4 was written by a guy that once hunted Christians down, called himself a Pharisee of the Pharisees but then realized that apart from Christ he was a wretched man. Paul found maintained his identity in Christ while he was in jail and was still able to pen, “For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13). Not too sure about you, but when I was in jail, I identified myself as a prisoner and nothing more.
We can take a moment to be mindful that things are falling apart (after all its a fallen world) but to get so preoccupied by it? Nah…let’s renew the mind and think on those things, that in Christ, ain’t too shabby at all. Amen?
Written by Chris Hughes: Chris is a husband, a father, has an education in Biblical doctrine and is a graduate of The Colony of Mercy. He has been a Freedom Fighter contributor since 2008. You can email him at email@example.com