Social networking is becoming, if not already, a requirement to relate to other people. Having an online profile is commonplace in society today. One neat thing about social networking is that you get to choose who you want to follow (i.e. twitter) and be friends with (i.e. facebook). At the same time, other people are able to follow you and be friends with you! Scary huh?! Did you know that in Philippians 3:17-21 the Bible gives you guidelines on how to manage your “spiritual profile?”
Follow those who Pursue Christ (v.17) – Paul encouraged his church to imitate him as he followed Christ. Church leadership (Pastors & Deacons) ought to be primary examples on how to pursue Christ and live the Christian life. Paul also recognized that there were other real life examples (patterns) that served as very powerful object lessons on how to live the Christian life. The Bible commands you to take note of, observe, and keep your eye (“…mark them which walk…”) on believers who passionately follow Christ. You must develop a “spiritual profile” of those who passionately pursue Christ because they encourage your spiritual growth. You must (1) identify and then (2) follow them.
For example, my youth pastor, Mike Washer (Director of National Hoops Ministries), is a great example of living by faith. I have personally seen God use him in great and mighty ways through his evangelistic ministry. My faith has grown as a result of “following” him when it comes to living by faith.
Who are you “following” that is an excellent example of living the Christian life? Are you a real life example of passionately pursing Christ? Would someone “mark” you as an example?
Avoid those who Oppose Christ (v.18-19) – On the other hand, there are MANY people in the world today who “profess Christ” or reject Christ and are seeking to distract and deceive you which will result in ruining your Christian testimony. These people are actually enemies of the cross of Jesus Christ and must be avoided. In other words, stop following them. The Bible lays out four descriptions of those who oppose Christ:
- Their Destiny - “Whose end is destruction,“ – Their eternal destination is destruction in hell.
- Their Desires - “…whose God is their belly,” – They are occupied with selfish living. Self-esteem is their appetite!
- Their Boastings - “…and whose glory is in their shame,” – They boast in the most extreme forms of wickedness. They take pride in perversions (immorality, violence, rebellion).
- Their Focus - “…who mind earthly things.)” – They have a temporal focus. They think and live for the here and now.
You must identify and avoid following the enemies of the cross of Jesus Christ because they hinder your spiritual growth. Who are you “following” that is an enemy of Jesus?
Remember your Identity in Christ (v.20-21) – One of the primary reasons people participate in social networking is to create an identity. In these verses Paul reminds you of your identity as a Christian, that your true citizenship is in heaven and that you must be eagerly waiting for the return of Christ!
“Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.”Paul encourages you to keep resting in the promise of glorification where you will be free from the presence of sin and receive your transformed (perfect) body. The core motivation for spiritual growth is the hope of the return of Jesus Christ, because that marks the end of your pursuit for the prize of Christlikeness!
A gardener for a large estate in northern Italy was conducting a visitor through the castle and the beautiful, well-groomed grounds. As the visitor had lunch with the gardener and his wife, he commended them for the beautiful way they were keeping the gardens. He asked, “By the way, when was the last time the owner was here? “About ten years ago.” The gardener replied. The visitor asked, “Then why do you keep the gardens in such an immaculate, lovely manner?” The gardener replied, “Because I’m expecting him to return.” “Is he coming next week?” The gardener replied, “I don’t know when he is coming, but I am expecting him today.” Are you excited about the day when your redeemed spirit and glorified body will be able to perfectly manifest the glory of God?
In summary, you must diligently manage your spiritual profile by looking to godly examples, looking out for enemies, and focusing on the glorious return of Jesus Christ!