When you’re not part of the main gang
What is the most elite group you have ever been a part of? Maybe you are having trouble remembering if you were ever part of such a group. Have you ever been a part of a group that had its own identity? To use modern parlance: a gang.
Was it a good experience? Did you feel a part of the team? Would you have “sold out” or “crossed over” to another gang or team?
Why bring this up? Today in Philippians, we read about a gang called the Imperial Guard.
Are you thinking, “The Imperial Guard from Star Wars?” No, not those fellas who ran around in red outfits.
Today, I am talking about a real gang who protected real Emperors. In history, Napoleon had them, so did the Roman Emperors. Let me just say again: Imperial Guards protected real Emperors. To put a point on the importance of this unit, emperors were not voted out of office—they were murdered.
Emperors and their Royal Guards still exist today.
Back to Philippians.
What would it take to be selected to an elite group of soldiers who protected the most important man in the world? If you were selected to that group, what type of devotion to your unit, its beliefs, its mission, would you have?
Now imagine, as part of this elite group, you find there is an even more important group—in fact, a more important person—to pledge your allegiance to.
Seriously try and imagine this situation.
That is what Paul is writing about in this letter. Everyone in the Royal Imperial Guard knows that Paul is in jail because he follows Jesus. The reality is Paul could make this all go away—in a New York Minute. He could.
By simply swearing allegiance to Caesar. All it takes is making a pledge that ends with “Caesar is Lord.” For Paul, there is only one little detail. Jesus, not Caesar, is Lord.
So Paul, a pretty smart guy, makes it known that he is for Jesus—and now the entire guard knows Paul is in jail because he is following a different Lord.
And the news catches on. Other people, for a variety of reasons, make it known that Paul is in jail for Jesus. Some do it to ridicule Paul.
Paul does not care. Why? Because the next question is: who is this Jesus?
And that question is THE question.
Which brings me to another question—are you a follower of Jesus? I am. Please understand, I am working at following him, but that is not the question I am driving towards.
Here is the question I am driving towards. As a follower of Jesus, in the Western world, in the United States of America, am I all bummed out because we once were the “main gang” but now we are not? Furthermore, how much does the “main gang” (their attitudes and behaviors) pull at me?
Would I rejoice if Christ were being made known, in pretense or in truth, at my expense?