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Stand firm in a world where waves crash and Caesars rule

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Therefore, my brothers,
whom I love and long for,
my joy and crown,
stand firm thus in the Lord,
my beloved. (Philippians 4:1)

 

I’d seen the red flag hoisted above the lifeguard tower, but it didn’t deter me from entering the water. Maybe it should have, because on this day, regardless of how hard I swam, I couldn’t seem to make any ground in getting back to shore. Shortness of breath started to set in. Anxiety began to rise. I could feel the tips of my toes dragging across the sand on the bottom of the ocean, but there was nothing I could do to gain control. Just then, a huge wave came and violently pushed me into shore. Thankfully, I started swimming at exactly the right time. If I hadn’t, I’m not sure how that day would’ve turned out. Needless to say, I spent the rest of the day recovering with my feet in the sand and realizing that drifting can be a terrifying experience.

When the Apostle Paul writes to the church at Philippi, he gives them special instruction to “stand firm.” While we don’t know the exact circumstances the church was facing, we do know some about the cultural atmosphere of certain Roman cities in the first century. Philippi was in a region where Caesar was considered Lord – reigning sovereign over the Roman Empire. When Christians began claiming that Jesus reigned, this flew in the face of prevailing thought. In the Roman Empire, declaring Jesus was Lord could cause one to be cut off from commerce and loose sources of income. It’s likely, the Philippian church felt pressure to give in to conformity as well as fear and anxiety (Philippians 4:6-7). Paul’s command to “stand firm” is given because the waves of the world are strong and there are intense pressures to drift.

We face the same challenge today. We get tossed in the waves of prevailing cultural milieu and feel the pressure to conform to the empires of the earth rather than living guided by the ethics of our heavenly Kingdom. Then, when we put our feet down, the fear begins to set in, because we realize, we’re drifting. As followers of Jesus, how do we stand firm? We stand firm by anchoring our lives into the rock – God, our Savior. Paul commands the church to “stand firm in the Lord” (Philippians 4:1). When we feel ourselves drifting, we need to remember and worship Jesus, the rock. The act of redirecting our gaze and setting the affection of our heart on Jesus will allow us to stand firm in a world where waves crash and Caesars rule. Today, read through Romans 5:1-2 to remind yourself where you stand and give praise to the Rock your soul is anchored to!

 

 

 “Oh come, let us sing to the Lord;
let us make a joyful noise
to the rock of our salvation!”

-Psalm 95:1

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By Ryan Paulson

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