Welcome to the land of paradoxes, well almost. Let’s examine 4 tensions Paul is instructing the Philippians through in chapter 1.

4 Bible Tensions You May Be Wrestling

1. Pretense and Truth
Paul expresses his attitude that he is happy Jesus is proclaimed, regardless of the motives behind it. Paul is caught between not being able to defend the defense of the Gospel due to his imprisonment and overseeing the ministry that has been legitimized.

We often talk about striking a balance between extremes. We ask questions that start like this, “How do you wrestle the the tension of…” But Paul rejoiced over the results. He didn’t get hung in the pinch points.

This is not a lazy optimistic take on uncontrollable circumstances but a pattern of life seen in all of his epistles.

Do we have a “What then,” attitude?

Can we find a consistent rhythm of rejoicing?

Does our reasoning defy the norm?

Is the exaltation of Jesus, the glorification of God the prize upon which our eyes are set?

2. Life and Death
If you read Paul’s logic during this chapter, you might think Christians are hopelessly sadistic. He would clearly rather be with Christ. It is clear that this is a hopeful bent the apostle is taking though.

He doesn’t choose to stay. He is chosen to remain.

In this truth, He rejoices. He rejoices because the glory of God will be shown through the answering of their prayers for his deliverance. He rejoices despite what some might call shame because he has an earnest expectation and hope.

Do we recognize our calling to Jesus as a means of salvation for ourselves only?

Can we rejoice and place hope in a greater future glory?

Does our life seek God’s glory, even at the point of death?

Is a legacy in place?

3. Present and Absent
Paul considered his life in light of his family’s well being. He is happy to put them first. He doesn’t just take them into consideration; he knows that God is using his life to serve theirs.

How radical is that! It is hard to live this way even for our spouse and children, especially when things are comfortable. The only way we can live like this is if the power of the Holy Spirit does it through us.

Do we come last, even in our own mind?

Can we pull our own good down when God calls us to lay down or lives?

Does our life (or Jesus) get exalted in the everyday stuff?

Is Jesus the banner of our selflessness, our unity, our family?

4. Salvation and Destruction
The opposition itself is a sign of destruction. Those who combat the good news of Jesus and those who spread it will view this clash as evidence. For the Gospel centered family of God, they have eternal assurance in the face of adversity.

Paul used to be in this group of opposers. Oh, did I say in the group? Excuse me, he led it. He has authority on every side to speak to both sides. His final instruction for the Philippian church is to be ready to suffer.

Do we run from opposition?

Can we imagine lives in which Christianity may not be the majority?
(For many across the world, this is the case.)

Do belief and suffering for belief go together in your mind?

Is the glory of God going to be shown when/if we are oppressed?

Is adversity a sign of salvation to us?

9 thoughts on “4 Bible Tensions You May Be Wrestling

  1. Great tensions. In response to tension number two, if we could really come to an understanding of how Christ’s resurrection changed death we would find no tension there. Death for the Christian is now just a transition to more living. So the choice is not Life or death but life here or life there.

  2. Yes! Brother, the Lord has put on my heart to share this here with you and your readers… Regarding righteous Christian suffering, the extent to which we truly seek the fellowship of sharing in Christ’s sufferings is proportional to our heavenly inheritance in Christ. Our inheritance is beyond our salvation, as illustrated by Caleb and Joshua. These two mighty warriors were the only Israelites delivered across the Red Sea who survived the trials of the wilderness for 40 years, made the miraculous crossing of the Jordan River, received circumcision of their flesh, and THEN persevered in overcoming the Nephilim giants, descendants of Anak, in Canaan (see Numbers 13:33; Judges 1:20). Suffering death to self (self-denial) precedes carrying our crosses and following Jesus into receiving our heavenly inheritance as His co-heirs…

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