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Spiritual Growth

Second Sunday in Lent : February 28th, 2010

By Carmen F.S. Vianese

Based on Scripture text: Philippians 3:17-4:1    

The Philippians struggled with a problem we also face every day: how to live as disciples of Jesus Christ in a world that is upside-down and often hostile to our mission out-look and our convictions. Paul's advice to the Philippians was to follow Christ’s example for living in this world, calling them to live "in the world, but not of it." In Chapter 3:21, Paul refers to the hope of resurrection so that we shall not only be with Christ, but also like Jesus when he returns.

But what exactly did Paul mean by "being like Christ?" Certainly, he did not mean in a physical sense; Paul was almost always speaking in a metaphorical and spiritual sense. Instead, he was referring to the essence of Christ, created by the gift of the Holy Spirit.  This gift comes alive in us and is already there waiting to be let loose through our exercise of faith.  And, it is most effectively expressed in our love for God and others with whom we learn to live day by day.

It saddened Paul greatly that many chose "to live as enemies of the cross of Christ" (vs. 18).  The essence of sin, as he saw it, was for people to continue to live in the spiritually dysfunctional patterns of selfishness, greed, hate and pride—the very things that drove the Pharisees and mobs to eventually put Jesus to death. He recognized that a much better way of living rested in the way Jesus himself had lived, which was the way Paul himself had tried to live (no matter how imperfectly his attempt was after his conversion on the Damascus road).

Just as the Philippians were called by Paul, we are called to let go of our daily patterns that imprison us and to step out in faith, to be intentional in our mission as disciples of Jesus and to be refreshed by the knowledge that we know Christ has risen and will come again. Lent is a time for us to examine our lives, confess our sins, and renew our commitment to live differently as Jesus would have us.  Though Paul knew nothing about Lent, it is the perfect to time to heed his call to the Philippians—to live a life focused on the light of our faith.

Let us Pray: O Gracious God, as we continue on our Lenten journey, please know that we want to follow Jesus, but we confess our reluctance to face the struggles that the journey might hold for us. We admire the difficult journey Jesus took. We want our journey of faith to be sincere. Help us to answer your call with enthusiasm and passion.  Amen.  

*Carmen F.S. Vianese is a Women’s Division director from the Western New York Conference.
Last Updated: 04/06/2010

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