Philippians 1:27

Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, 

Philippians 1:28

and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God.

In preparation of developing my webpage and my blog, the development team sent me an email informing me that I can go and look at the prototype.  The prototype is just a mockup of the real thing.  It is something provided for you to react, to respond and to make changes.  Well, to say it took me a minute to even hover my curser over the link is truly an understatement.  Actually, I didn’t open the email until the next morning, after I’d had two cups of coffee and engaged in a deep, deep, deep conversation with the Lord.  Finally, I heard, “Open the thang, would you!”  I don’t know about you, but my God talks to me in a way that I will understand and respond, straight, no chaser!  With shaky hands and a fast-beating heart, I opened it.  

No turning back now!  I now have to actually SEE what I had only been envisioning!  It’s one thing to have something sitting on your heart – just visualizing the possibilities – possibilities of acceptance and of rejection.  It’s another thing to begin to have your entire being being flooded with the positive and the negative, all at one time and at a high intensity!  

As I toured the prototype, I could hear Terrified Tonya doing what she always does, concentrate on the don’ts, the why nots, the what can go wrongs!  Who is Terrified Tonya?  She’s “that” part of me.  That part that lives in the negative, dark spaces of my subconscious, continually reminding me of where I fall short and don’t measure up.  Terrible Tonya continually reminds me of who I used to be and how I cannot or I should not move forward. Moving forward to do my God given work!  Engaging in my God gifted talents, skills and abilities.  If I move forward, even doing God’s work, I am putting myself in a place where I can be exposed.  Terrified Tonya dwells in the things of the past because she is governed by fear of the greatness before her! 

Terrified Tonya kept talking, I kept listening and I was starting to agree.  My heart started beating faster and my hands were shaking so much that it was beginning to become difficult for me to navigate the keyboard of my computer!  

So, I stopped, picked up my cell phone and texted my mother and my God-sister, “Hey, just looked at the prototype of my website.  I’m so excited!  Looks better than I thought it would.”  Yep, I misrepresented what I was actually feeling, trying to project confidence where there was none.  Then I had to come clean and let them in on what was really going on.  I followed that with, “I’m scared!” with the frightened face emoji.  Nothing else, no explanation needed.  My Tribe would totally understand.  Immediately, I was sent texts with nothing but encouragement and admonishment for me being fearful.  Both my mother and my God-sister reminding me that I’ve got a work to do, that God’s got me and they were sending me scriptures.  Finally, my God-sister said, “Well, just know that you have a whole tribe that has your back!  You were built for this…quit playing.”  And with that, my heart rate slowed, my hands settled comfortably on the keyboard and I got busy writing this post.  

Your community, your Tribe, your Peeps, your Aces, your sister/friends, your support system, however you refer to them – they matter!

Throughout God’s word and specifically in Philippians 1:27 – 28, the Word encourages those that are believers in Christ to stand TOGETHER, with one purpose, one spirit and one mind – to walk worthy of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Yep, walking worthy of His gift of salvation – that being His gospel, the good news – means that I am obedient to the calling that God created me.  PERIODT (in my daughter’s voice)!  However, as we walk in our calling, Paul commands us to walk, TOGETHER!  That means the following:  

  • Together – into companionship or close association
  • Purpose – the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists.

The purpose is to engage in our God given work, giving God glory, TOGETHER. Living a lifestyle that demonstrates unity with God fully engaged in the purpose for which we were created – to commune with God and to point others to Him by living a righteous and upright lifestyle.  Showing the unsaved that Believers understand what a precious gift we have been given, the gift of salvation, and that we are called to do a work, TOGETHER!  

Why am I stressing TOGETHER?  

Because, even before the pandemic, when we were forced to remain within the safety of our homes and be restricted to a limited number of people, we have been becoming more and more isolated.  In all honesty, we have been moving to a place of personal isolation, truly limiting our interactions with others, and becoming more and more independent rather than interdependent for a very long time.  With the development of attached garages and privacy fences, we no longer have to even see our neighbors anymore.  We’ve come to know less and less about who they are, who their children are, if or how they worship or whether or not they need support or encouragement.  We know nothing and it seems as if we don’t care to know anything.  On our jobs, we barely interact with our co-workers.  In the past, when we needed to communicate, we would get up from our desks, walk to the next office or cube or we’d call them on the phone and have a conversation.  Now, we send emails or we instant message someone.  This allows us to make the decision to ignore, not respond never to engage – pushing off the interaction until it is more “convenient” for us to respond, sometime never responding and leaving the sender of the message in eternal limbo and confusion.  As a result of these and many other inventions, our opportunities to develop a community, a Tribe, has greatly diminished, almost becoming extinct.  

On the flip side, in the not too distant past, when I was a kid, I remember spending as much time as I possibly could outside, engaging and interacting with others.  My parents and the other parents or neighbors in the community would sit on their porches or in their driveways in lawn chairs, talking, keeping an eye on the children, encouraging each other and providing support. I knew who my neighbors were, and I loved the fact that I had a multiplicity of options to develop relationships.  Now, the relationships were varied in their depth or intensity, for sure.  Some were profound, long lasting, deep and extremely personal.  Others were surface level and limited, but they were no less important or impactful.  It was through those relationships, be them deep and intense or surface and limited, that I began to shape who I have become and how I negotiate my behaviors as I travel on this journey.  Those relationships that I have come to understand were all in God’s plan and have aided me in identifying, developing and stepping into my calling.  It is because of those relationships, that I have developed my persona and my style –  my desire to share, my sense of humor, my honesty and my transparency – that differentiates me from others and allows me to connect with people in special ways.

The importance of TOGETHER, becomes all the more apparent when we look at verse 28.  In 28, Paul identifies the role that community plays in our lives.  He asserts that opposition will come.  What I need you to understand about opposition is that it can be internal or external.  Remember Terrified Tonya, she’s internal.  It’s not my enemies, it’s not my Haters, it’s not generated from anything other than what is within.  Often, our opposition is our small minded and limited thinking.  Our desire to remain safe – in the familiar, fuels our inner opposition.

(Take this for what it’s worth, but I have found a benefit in giving my negative inner voice a name.  Why? Because when she starts to stand up, I can identify her for what and who she is and I can begin the process of shutting her DOWN!)  

Now, just because we have the inner opposition, we do have very real external opposition.  Just because they are external doesn’t diminish the devastating sting of their power and impact.  It is the external opposition that attempts to slaughter your reputation, to kill you progress and that hang onto your heels so that you can’t level up, move upward.  They try to limit you.  Literally, they are attempting to kill your ministry and to stagnate the building of the Kingdom through you.  Why? Because if you rise, if you go up, if you glow up, you are leaving them behind and you are illuminating their fears of your and their possibilities.  Because their existence is encased in fear, they attempt to be the weight that is weighing down your ascension, your potential impact and in God getting glory.

However, if you have a community, a community that will encourage you when the mini-me begins to stand up within you, they will cover you when the enemy begins to sling their evil arrows in your direction and they watch your back for the opposition that lurks in the shadows.  With your Tribe/your community – moving forward is less fearful.  Yes, if we are Believers, we can do all things through Christ.  Yes, our Creator is our protector, our keeper and our provider.  But God created us to be interdependent.  He has written throughout His word continual encouragement for us to be connected, tightly woven, united.  Yep, like the old R & B 1970’s song says, “We are family,” and family is supposed to stick together. There are times that you will need to have someone that you can see and literally put your hands on.  Someone who you know, without a shadow of a doubt, is in this thing with you, who understands you and your insecurities and who will remain in the foxhole with you until the last shot is fired, as you move forward, onward and upward.  You need that group of supporters that know you so well, they can look in your eyes, hear you voice, watch your mannerisms and know what you are experiencing.  They know your fears and when your mini-me begins to rise up.  In that knowing, they also know what to say to snap you out of it and to encourage you to continue on your journey – one step at a time.  Sometimes, it is your community that wills you to the next – the next step, the next phase, the next level.  All the while, covering you in prayer and encouragement.   

Believers must bind together, as highlighted in 28b, so that your opposition will see that unity, that togetherness as indication of their ultimate defeat.  Our binding together is not only clear signs of enemy defeat, it also indicates our obedience and that in our victory, God will be glorified!  Isn’t that what it’s all about?!  We must give God glory!  We were created and purposed to illuminate God’s greatness, mercy, power and loving kindness.  As Believers, our victories are not our own.  Our victories are God’s victory.  Therefore, since He is our Commander in Chief and our victory is His victory, shouldn’t we follow the plan that He has outlined for our lives?  Yes!  And the Commander has said that we must band together.

Yep, we all need a Tribe.  Paul knew it and God knows it too. Not only does God know it, He commands it! 

We can’t do this work alone.  We all get tired.  We all have times that we must confront our fears.  We all get doubtful.  We need a community, a Tribe.  

I’ve got mine!  Do you have yours? 

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top