In Philippians 3:17-20, Paul is writing his friends from prison encouraging them to continue in their faith when he writes these words:“Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do.”
I don’t know many today that would encourage others to pattern their lives after theirs but Paul does just that. It seems that Paul knows who his friends are looking to as the models of a successful life and he does not approve.
Throughout my life I’ve always been an observer. I have a tendency to take note of how people respond to certain things in life and then file it away in the card collection of my brain. A couple of years ago I heard the phrase “success leaves clues,” so I started looking for “success” and tried to find those “clues.” What I found was not very inspiring. Perceived success in one area of life did not mean that all of life was good.
Whoever these people are that the people in Philippi are watching are not what they seem. In fact, Paul is so adamant that they are not what they appear to be that this isn’t the first time he’s warned them. With emotionally charged language, Paul describes these role models as people who “live as enemies of the cross of Christ.”
As we journey in this Lenten season, we must remember that there are alternative stories that are competing for our hearts and shaping our understand of the “good life.” For example, the lure of “success” is very real and if we’re not careful we can buy into something that will lead to destruction. From a jail cell, Paul reminds us that we are citizens of the Kingdom of God and he offers himself as an example of what it means to live like Jesus. The “good life” for Paul does not mean that he has an awesome 401k, it means that his eyes are fixed on Jesus in all circumstances.
Who are you watching?
What is the “Good life” for you?
Click here for today's additional Scripture readings.
Grace and Peace.