“Meanwhile, live in such a way that you are a credit to the Message of Christ. Let nothing in your conduct hang on whether I come or not. Your conduct must be the same whether I show up to see things for myself or hear of it from a distance. Stand united, singular in vision, contending for people’s trust in the Message, the good news, not flinching or dodging in the slightest before the opposition. Your courage and unity will show them what they’re up against: defeat for them, victory for you—and both because of God. There’s far more to this life than trusting in Christ. There’s also suffering for him. And the suffering is as much a gift as the trusting. You’re involved in the same kind of struggle you saw me go through, on which you are now getting an updated report in this letter.” Philippians 1:27-30 The Message
A few weeks ago, my wife and I were at a conference for an organization called Convoy of Hope. We love this ministry as it is used to feed hundreds of thousands of children every day all over the world and so much more. While we were eating breakfast the first morning, I noticed a man right next to me at the buffet line. What stood out was that this guy had another man with him who was filling his plate for him. It was odd, but I went on with life and sat back down at my table ready to enjoy the feast. As soon as I sat down my wife excitedly whispers to me, “Do you know who that was right next to you?” I responded with yes, I do. It was a man who needed help with breakfast. She said, “He is famous! He is an actor!” I sure missed that one. I didn’t turn around right away to take another look. Instead, I asked my wife who she thought it was. She answered, “It is that bald headed guy that did some of the action movies we like.” Hmm, that doesn’t really narrow it down, and I know I wasn’t standing next to Vin Diesel. Besides, he would fill his own plate or at least I would think. Then my wife came up with a title. “Die Hard!” she whispery shouted. That is when my head turned like it was on a swivel. I looked and sure enough, the guy standing right next to me was Bruce Willis. He didn’t have the physique he had in Die Hard, but he has earned the more mature action hero look. Our waiter confirmed it was him, and as we learned he was staying in our hotel, the next few days were filled with "I spy Bruce Willis” conversations.
Just like any other actor who played roles in action movies, they show us a character that is fearless, ready to take on any enemy and eagerly meet the challenge to confront death and stare it in the eye. Bruce’s character in Die Hard did that a few times. I classify it as a Christmas Classic. Don’t judge. Why do we like movies that take us into a world for 2 hours of thrills, risk taking and “How in the world did they do that?” commentary? I believe it's because deep down in all of us, maybe even Bruce Willis, we want to be fearless, live life on the edge and take great risks no matter the cost. In life, we honor heroes who gave their lives on the battlefield. They are not actors who had stunt doubles. These are men and women who stared death in the face and gave their lives for others. Many still today live everyday like that to defend our freedom. We honor our police, firefighters, EMT’s, doctors and nurses who put themselves at great risk going to work. There is something in all of us that wants to do our part to stand strong, be courageous and help others, even if it costs us everything.
If there is a person in the Bible who lived a life of “Action Hero” worthy, it was the Apostle Paul. In fact, you can put many of men and women in the Bible in this category but let me tell you why I am highlighting Paul. Philippians 1 tells us why he was a fearless preacher of the gospel, as he learned to be content in any situation, he was put in. It gives us the perspective of why he was comfortable around death just as much as he was around life. Chapter 1 explains why Paul’s life was no longer his own, but now belonged to the one who gave him true life. This freed Paul to give his all and encourage us with his writings to do the same.
Bruce Willis didn’t intimidate me when he was having his plate filled at breakfast. I didn’t even notice him. I wonder if that is the perspective of our enemy about us. To him we are taking care of ourselves and having other people take care of us too. We are actors in the movie called Life. We play the part well, but the enemy is not bothered by who we are. Don’t get me wrong about Bruce at the buffet line. I am sure there is a good reason the guy was helping him. He has earned it for sure, but I think you get my point. He is an actor that gave us a character that we look to as strong and fearless. But it was just a character in a movie. Life is not a movie, and we are not actors, but we do have the opportunity to live life every day like an action hero. We can be fearless and ready to give it all. We have a choice. We are either looking out for our comfort or we are daily living life ready to give all. This was Paul. He lived life every day with a chief aim... Jesus!
Jesus was his life. The gospel was his mission. While he lived, the gospel was preached no matter the cost. When he died, heaven got a great gain. But the enemy, got absolutely nothing. I live? I live to promote Jesus. I die? Jesus gets me, and I get Jesus. This is the kind of life that is dangerous to hell. This is the kind of living that the enemy takes notice. Look at Paul’s life. It wasn’t pretty. He didn’t have a 401k. He was beaten, snake bitten, shipwrecked and imprisoned. He lived staring death in the face, but death never overcame him because Jesus overcame death and Jesus lived in Paul and Paul lived for Jesus. He ministered while not fearing for his life, but willing to give his life away to make sure others had the life he lived. Jesus transformed him into one of the greatest real life action heroes of all time and the cool thing is that Paul, with the help of the Holy Spirit, tells us how we can live the same way.
“...live in such a way that you are a credit to the Message of Christ.”
“Stand united, singular in vision, contending for people’s trust in the Message, the good news, not flinching or dodging in the slightest before the opposition”
“Your courage and unity will show them what they’re up against: defeat for them, victory for you—and both because of God.”
“There’s far more to this life than trusting in Christ. There’s also suffering for him. And the suffering is as much a gift as the trusting.”
Philippians 1:27-30 The Message
“For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21 ESV