16 July 2011

Stand Firm in the Phalanx

The Philippian Phalanx
The apostle Paul writes the following in Philippians 1:27-30.
Only this: in a manner that is worthy of the gospel of Christ must you conduct your citizenship, so that coming and seeing you, or being away and hearing about you, I may hear that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind, together contending in the faith of the gospel, not being startled in any way by those who are set in opposition.

Stand firm. The city of Philippi was named after Philip II of Macedon, the father of Alexander the Great. Now Philip was famous for his innovation in a particular mode of infantry warfare: the phalanx. The phalanx was a formation in which the soldiers would form a human wall by locking their massive shields together, while the soldiers who were immediately behind them thrust their spears over the top, and the soldiers who were behind them would brace the whole line and help it to stand firm. So they would advance, pushing forward step by step, until they met resistance, and together stood firm.

Paul tells the Philippians then to stand firm in one spirit, probably meaning the Holy Spirit. So stand firm in one Spirit, with one mind, just as the phalanx stood firm, with one mind, with singular intention, together contending like soldiers, side by side, in the faith of the gospel, not being startled in any way by those who are set in opposition.

And then, Paul says,
This is to them an omen of destruction, but to you, of salvation, and this from God.

This is a call for Christian men to stand firm, to lock shields with one another and build their courage in the confidence of the gospel.

Attitude is everything. When a smaller army meets a larger army with confidence, fearlessly daring great deeds, standing firm with one mind, striving side-by-side, not being startled in any way by the more imposing force, something happens. A question is placed in the mind of the larger army: “Why aren’t they afraid? Why are they so confident?” They start to look around. “Is there something we don’t know? Are reinforcements on their way? Have we been outflanked?”

Stand together in the Spirit, Paul says, and it will create a question in the minds of the opposition, even while increasing the certainty in your own. Although your forces may seem small, and your power insignificant, you belong to a most honored and select group.
   
For it has been given to you for the sake of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him,  having the same struggle which you saw in me and now hear in me.

Join in the struggle for the gospel. Start a weekly prayer time with your fellow men, on a regular morning before work. Set aside 30 minutes together to share your life and to pray. Take your place in the phalanx and stand firm with your brothers in Christ.

To catch up on Training Episode 1, go here.

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