Dear Church Family,
Last week I had the distinct pleasure of discovering a yellow jackets’ nest…twice. Yes, once was more than enough, but no, I didn’t realize where they were coming from until my second encounter. Everyday since then I have been reminded of these zealous insects by their lingering effects.
So why did they attack me? They were defending their existence which I happened to be encroaching upon. I know they are bugs and we live in a post-Fall world, but they have been hardwired by God to risk their lives in the defense of their colony.
This is going to get a little philosophical, but stick with me. Typically, we assume that if something must be defended, in and of itself, it must be defenseless. For instance, the nest could not defend itself and therefore had to be defended by its occupants in order to survive. The nest was vulnerable without its defenders.
Do you think the Word of God is defenseless and vulnerable? I imagine you would agree with Charles Spurgeon’s quip that, “The Word of God is like a lion. You don’t have to defend a lion. All you have to do is let the lion loose, and the lion will defend itself.” The Word of God is not passive, rather It is living and active.
Alright, so what does Paul mean when he writes to the church at Philippi and tells them they are engaged with him in the defense of the Gospel (Philippians 1:7, 16)? This is the same Paul who wrote to the church at Rome and told them he was “not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16). Well if the Gospel is the power of God, Paul doesn’t think It is weak. If the Gospel isn’t weak, why does he say he defends It?
The yellow jackets defended what was vulnerable and weak, but Paul defended what is valuable and powerful. Paul’s defense of the Gospel was a life lived and laid down to the glory of God—thereby showing the inexhaustible power and incomparable value of the Gospel. The Gospel is worthy of our lives. And as we live in a manner worthy of the Gospel, our lives defend the value of the Gospel by demonstrating Its power.
The Gospel’s value and power do not depend on our defense of It. However, it is the great joy of our lives to live in such a way that God gets the glory because it is His Gospel power working within us.
“But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame” (1 Peter 3:14-16).