A Life Worthy of the Gospel

In yesterday’s post, I argued that judging others, that is, looking upon others with an evil eye, is not in keeping with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  This morning, as I reread the lessons, I was drawn to Paul’s words to the Philippians that they should live their lives in “a manner worthy of Gospel.”  As with any admonition in the Pauline corpus, there are several different ways to read this.

A life worthy of the Gospel may mean a life removed from the things of this world.  The Amish have sort of done this by arbitrarily choosing the technology of the 18th century as ordained by God and new advancements such as 120 volt electricity as too worldly.  Some Southern Baptists have done this by choosing to abstain from alcohol, dancing, pre-marital sex, and card playing.  Some Episcopalians have done this by maintaining a preference for Anglican Chant and organ music while abstaining from extemporaneous prayers.  Since the definitions of “things of this world” are so vague, I’m not convinced this is what Paul had in mind.

Ice Machines and F-250s are a bit worldly for me.

A life worthy of the Gospel might mean a life wholly devoted to prayer.  The Church has a long tradition of ascetics who have taken this understanding very seriously.  Some lived in caves in the desert, some stood atop a pole for decades, some sold all they had and gave it to the poor, some were tithed by their parents to a monastery at a young age.  I admire the ascetics and mystics of our tradition, but if we were all to live that way, the church would died out pretty quickly since Christian loins need to produce Christian children and/or Christians must be engaged in society and share the Good News in order to propagate the faith.

It is hard to share the Gospel when you keep adding height to your tower to avoid the people who have come to see you.

A life worthy of the Gospel might mean living a life that follows the teachings of Jesus, or as Tony Campolo might say, being a “Red Letter Christian” by following the words of Jesus (often printed in red in older translations).  Jesus summed it up by saying that we should love God and love our neighbors as ourselves.  In The Episcopal Church, we’ve been so bold as to expand upon that in the Baptismal Covenant in which we promise to do our best to “keep God’s holy will and commandments” with God’s help (1662 BCP).  It is through the living out of the virtues listed in the Baptismal Covenant that we pattern our lives after the Gospel and work to establish the kingdom of heaven on earth.  That, to me, is how we live our lives in a manner worthy of the Gospel.

Celebrant      Will you continue in the apostles’ teaching and
fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the

People          I will, with God’s help.

Celebrant      Will you persevere in resisting evil, and, whenever
you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord?

People          I will, with God’s help.

Celebrant     Will you proclaim by word and example the Good
News of God in Christ?

People          I will, with God’s help.

Celebrant      Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving
your neighbor as yourself?

People          I will, with God’s help.

Celebrant      Will you strive for justice and peace among all
people, and respect the dignity of every human

People          I will, with God’s help.


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