In tonight's passage, Paul turns from his life to start talking about the Philippians and the difficulties that they're facing. And he uses the language of a battle.
In v. 27 he talks about "standing fast" and "striving together."
In v. 28 he talks about being "terrified by your adversaries."
In v. 29 he talks about "suffering."
In v. 30 he refers to the "conflict."
You see the Christian life is not a playground. It's a battleground. It's a fight and not a game.
Throughout the NT, the Christian life is compared warfare.
2 Tim. 4:7 "I have fought a good fight."
2 Co. 10:4 "For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal"
1 Ti. 1:18 "War a good warfare."
2 Ti. 2:4 "No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier."
Or as we're studying this year in Eph. 6, "Put on the whole armor of God."
The early Christians knew they were in a battle. And the persecution was only getting worse. They would be fed to lions, killed by gladiators, burned alive for their faith. Christians in the 1st century faced persecution.
And things haven't changed much in 2,000 years. Christians in the 21st century face persecution.
Just this week Pakistan's most prominent Christian was assassinated. Shahbaz Bhatti, 42, the Minister for Minority Affairs, just recently met with Secretary of State Clinton and the Canadian Prime Minister. He was given a 5 minute standing ovation by the Canadian Parliament.
In December (2010), in an interview, Mr. Bhatti said he knew he would probably be killed for being a Christian, but that he was willing to die for the cross. And on Wednesday morning, that's exactly what happened. Al-Qaeda and the Taliban both claimed responsibility for his assassination.
We are in a battle- Christians today are being oppressed and persecuted just like the Philippians.