In the last column on Philippians we commented on Paul’s words about shining like stars in the sky above a dark world of sin. We didn’t say at that time that the sentence continues into the following verse (2:16). Christians in Philippi were to shine like stars “by holding on to the word of life.” Shining, apparently, is the result of a firm allegiance to the Word of God. It is the “word of life. ”I’d like to look at that phrase from several different viewpoints.
In the first place, the bible is the Word about life. It tells the story of creation, the beginning of everything that is. Genesis opens with the statement, “In the beginning God.” He was there when what we now call time and space began. Before that, God alone existed. Then came what we call the beginning in which he created all that is, and he did it ex nihilo, that is, out of nothing. At the end of the “week” he created human life. From the beginning to the end scripture is the story about life – what it is and how it came to be. The DNA came into existence because God chose that it would. He is the sovereign creator of life – that which in some complimentary way mirrors his image.
Scripture is also the Word that gives life. In its pages we read the magnificent account of God’s redemptive love, his supreme act of giving his Son that we by faith might be forgiven and enriched with life from above. Just recently we read a hymn of the early church in which Christ entered his own creation by becoming one of us and humbled himself by dying on a cross for our salvation. Throughout the centuries repentant sinners have knelt before him and received the gift of eternal life. The Word that prepared the Philippian believers, and all who follow their example, to shine as bright stars over the darkness of unbelief is the Word that gives life.
And finally, scripture is the living Word. Christ speaks through it. The unique thing about the bible is that it allows God to speak today through words that were penned long ago. You cannot sincerely read, “For God so loved the world that he gave . . .” without hearing the voice of God himself. Scripture is alive for all those who approach it with an openness to hear from another sphere.
So the way to make a difference in this world, to shine, is to hold securely to this Word that explains the origin of life, that gives life to those who accept it, and that is “alive and active; sharper than any double-edged sword” (Heb. 4:12).