In this series we have talked about Christian apologetics, which is basically making a defense for why we believe what we believe. I am thankful for Christian scientists who help us understand the world God created. I am grateful for Christian philosophers and theologians who can challenge the underlying assumptions that make the skeptic not even consider the claims of Jesus and historic Christianity. My experience, however, is that many people are far more persuaded by a transformed life than they are by airtight logic or persuasive arguments.
In Philippians 2:12-18, Paul commands his readers to be “blameless and pure, children of God who are faultless in a crooked and perverted generation.” He also tells them to “shine like stars in the world.” This is reminiscent of Jesus’ words when He instructed His followers to let their light so shine before others that they would see their good works and give glory to God (see Matthew 5:14-16).
You probably have heard the idea that the darker the night, the more the light shines. We can curse the darkness, or light a candle in the night. How do we do that?
Here are some thoughts of a compelling life transformed by Jesus from Philippians 2:12-18:
- A compelling life is actively engaged with God’s work and purposes in him or her. A passive life will see little or no transformation. Human energy alone can never accomplish God’s work, and yet God does not accomplish His purposes in you without it (see vv. 12-13).
- A compelling life reveals a transformation of character and attitude. Earlier Paul had told the Philippians to have the attitude of Christ Jesus (v. 5) and then goes on to show what that looks like, in such things as humility and sacrifice (vv. 6-11). In our passage, a person who is progressing in transformation is changed from the inside out, and this can be seen in such tangible ways as not grumbling and arguing (see vv. 14-15). Are you a less grumbling and complaining person than you were five years ago? Do you see any change in your character or attitude from a year ago?
- A compelling life follows Paul’s example (and Jesus’ example) of living sacrificially on behalf of others. Paul says that he is “poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith (v. 17).” One characteristic of transformation is that you are less self-centered and are giving your life away in ministry to others.
Notice that these distinctive qualities are not about outward things or religious observance. This is not about how many times you are at church, or what position you take on a variety of societal issues. People will stand up and take notice when you live in such a way that is attractive and makes them take notice. Who knows? In navigating their lives, they may even see your bright star that will help them find their way to Jesus. The Holy Bible: Holman Christian Standard Version. (Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 2009), Php 2:15.