In this Season of Lent, as we mark and follow Christ’s journey to the cross, our Epistle reading this morning, the Second Sunday in Lent, confronts us once more with that persistent question:
What, exactly, is the Christian distinctive? How are we different, if at all, from the broad milieu in which we live, and in which we move; a milieu which relentlessly attempts to define our very being relative to its constantly shifting norms? What is the compass if any, that guides our steps through the perils of this complex world, this milieu that seems to be constantly seeking to disengage us from the Christian distinctive?
Following the course of the reading, I would like for us to frame our approach in two categories: the “enemies of the cross of Christ” and the implicit, unmentioned opposite, the “not-enemies of the cross of Christ”, the target audience of this letter, the Christ-followers at Philippi.
I would also like for us to keep track of an interesting word and phrase in this snippet as read to us today from the Jerusalem Bible: “homeland” in chapter 3 verse 20 and the phrase “do not give way” in chapter 4 verse 1. These two in their original language in the context of the era are key, pregnant with imagery and meaning.