IT IS FROM THERE THAT...
with Rev. Rachel
20 IT IS FROM THERE THAT... Philippians 3
When it is a good picture, a vintage poster, a child’s drawing, or a valuable painting, we know that the frame matters. How we frame the keepsake can be impactful.
“America is a Christian nation.” This is an example of a theoretical framework; meaning it shapes what one sees. If one frames our historical context with “Christians came to America to get away from other Christians determined to govern Europe” well, the brain produces another picture.
Paul frames faith. The frame is not an accessory. It is key to what he wants us to see. From Paul’s point of view, practicing faith means (1) committing one’s self to the life of a particular Christian community and (2) a counter-cultural existence.
In correspondence with the Philippians, he uses a word that means “colony”. Christ followers had been formed into a colony. The Lord was the Lord of their colony. The Apostle reminds them that they belong differently. They are citizens of heaven—kingdom-citizens.
By using the words colony and citizen in connection with Christ, Paul invites the Philippians to examine whether they are abiding in framework given to them by God or clinging to the framework provided by Philippi (a colony of Rome).
If you and I were to take Paul seriously as an utterer of God’s word for us in our day, we would ask ourselves about the frames with which we work and whether or not these frames are cross-shaped.
We would consider how it is with our kingdom citizenship, recognizing that the kingdom has never been one and the same as any nation-state.
We might recognize that God’s saving grace really does comes to us through the life we choose to live together on the colony level and that we don’t have to become the empire.
Maybe we would spend less of ourselves on bemoaning culture and invest more in building up the body of Christ, which promises to be as counter-cultural now as it was in Philippi, if the way of the cross is the one we freely and gladly choose to take.