Philippians 1:27-30 ESV
“Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.”
God’s Plan for Our Future
Today I was glancing through music videos on YouTube, seeking out good Christian music, which I found lots of, when I came across a recording of a particular old familiar song. Now, when I was a senior in high school (1967/68) at Akron East High, in Ohio (USA), I was selected to sing a solo for our senior assembly. The song was, “The Impossible Dream,” which, although not a Christian song, per se, has a message in its lyrics that can easily fit with our walks of faith in Jesus Christ, at least in part.
The song speaks of dreaming the impossible dream. But a dream doesn’t have to be something we experience in our sleep and/or in a fantasy world. It can be a vision, a revelation, insight, or a plan for the future, something that God plants in our minds and hearts as to something he is calling us to do. For he has a specific assignment for each one of us who believe in Jesus, a specific role he has planned for us to fill within the body of Christ, uniquely designed for us (see 1 Corinthians 12; Romans 12; and Ephesians 4).
The second line of the song says, “To fight the unbeatable foe.” And definitely all Christians are called to put on the armor of God with which to fight off Satan’s evil schemes against us. And although he is beatable, i.e. we can conquer him in the power of God, he comes right back at us, so he is still active, and he is still coming against us, and it will be this way until we die or until Jesus returns and he takes us home. So we are all called to resist Satan and to flee temptation and to draw near to God in faith.
The next lines say, “To bear with unbearable sorrow and to run where the brave dare not go.” And when we trust in Jesus Christ with our lives, and we follow him in doing his will, he promises us that we will be hated and persecuted as he was hated and persecuted when he walked this earth. For he has called us to a life of suffering, to die with him to sin, to deny self, and to follow him in obedience, which will get us rejected, cast aside, falsely accused, attacked, and perhaps even put to death for our walks of faith.
[Eph 6:10-20; Matt 5:10-12; Matt 10:16-25; Matt 24:9-14; Lu 6:22-23; Lu 21:12-19; John 15:1-21; Jn 16:33; Ac 14:22; Rom 5:3-5; Phil 3:7-11; 1 Pet 1:6-7; 1 Pet 4:12-17; 1 Thess 3:1-5; Jas 1:2-4; 2 Co 1:3-11; Heb 12:3-12]
Our Quest to Follow Jesus
The next lines say, “To right the unrightable wrong and to love pure and chaste from afar.” And all of us are called to repent of our sins and to allow Jesus Christ to change our hearts. So, by faith in him we are crucified with Christ in death to sin and we are raised with him to walk in newness of life in him. And now we are no longer to live as slaves of sin but as slaves of God and of his righteousness, and to walk, no longer according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit – but all because of God’s grace, and in his power.
And we are all called to love and obey our Lord, and to love other humans. And we are called to live holy and godly lives, in moral purity, in integrity, in faithfulness, and in truth. And the next line says, “To try when your arms are too weary.” And now we are not to try in our flesh to do good, but we are to do good that God has called us to do, in his power and strength. But we still live in flesh bodies, and so we will get tired and weary, and we will need times of rest, but we also need to keep trusting the Lord, too.
Now the song speaks of following a star, but as Christians we don’t follow the stars, we follow Jesus Christ, but other than that, these next words fit, and I will substitute “star” with “Jesus.” “This is my quest to follow Jesus Christ, no matter how hopeless, no matter how far, to fight for the right, without question or pause, to be willing to march into Hell for that heavenly cause.” Now Jesus literally did that for you and for me, for our salvation, and that is to be our determination, as well, to fight for the truth of Christ.
And then it says, “And I know if I’ll only be true to this glorious quest that my heart will lie peaceful and calm when I’m laid to my rest.” And that is biblical, providing that the quest is to follow Jesus Christ with our lives in doing what he has called us to do. And it is for us to daily (continually) die with Christ to sin and to follow him in obedience, in practice. And it is for us to be sharing the gospel (the truth) with others so that they, too, can be saved from addiction to sin and walk in holiness in the power of God.
If we remain in Christ and his word remains in us, and we continue in walks of obedience to him, casting off sin, and following our Lord in doing his will, and if we do not continue in deliberate and habitual sin in sinful rebellion against our Lord and in disobedience to his commands (New Covenant), then we have that hope of eternal life with God and eternal rest and eternal peace. And we will be forever with our Lord. And all our pain and suffering will be over and no more Satan to fight against us. Amen!
We Need to Keep Going
Now this next part of the song sounds a little like the author may have had Jesus Christ in mind, for it says, “And the world will be better for this that one man, scorned and covered with scars still strove with his last ounce of courage..” [end quote] to do what was required to provide for us salvation from our sins and new lives in him to be lived for his glory and praise. And this can also represent our steadfast walks of faith in Jesus Christ, too, and our determination to keep walking the walk, and to live holy lives for Jesus.
And, too, if we are sharing the truth of the gospel with others, and if we are fighting off the enemy of our souls on a regular basis, because he is trying to stop us, and so we are being hated and mistreated and abused and rejected, because we are telling the truth, then the world is better for this that we, although beaten down and cast aside, still strove in the power of God’s Spirit to keep speaking the truth so that many people would hear the truth of the gospel and be saved from their slavery to sin and now walk in holiness.
So, even though this song is not an exact match, for it is not a Christian song, I just see so many parallels between the wording in the lyrics and what the Scriptures teach us regarding how we are to live. And lastly, going back to the senior assembly at East High. While I was singing this song, my voice cracked part way through, and the students laughed. But I had been trained professionally in how to sing, so I kept on singing and I walked off the stage with dignity, and then I ran to the bathroom and wept.
And the parallel I see with this is, no matter how hard it gets, and even if everyone laughs at us or mocks us because of our faith in Jesus Christ, and because we are sharing his gospel message, and because we are fighting against the lies of the enemy, too, we need to keep going. We need to keep speaking the truth and exposing the lies, for many people are deceived and they need to know the truth through which they can find true salvation from sin and true life in Christ. And it is okay to shed tears, too.
[Matt 7:21-23; Lu 9:23-26; Jn 14:23-24; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14,24; Rom 12:1-2; Rom 13:11; 1 Co 1:18; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 2:8-10; Eph 4:17-32; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-17; 1 Pet 2:24; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6,24-25; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 3:6,14-15; Heb 10:23-31; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]
Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer
Lyrics by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1897
Music by W. J. Kirkpatrick, 1897
Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.
Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.
O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.
O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.
Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.
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