Several years ago I received a letter from an Our Daily Bread reader after I had written about a family tragedy. “When you told about your tragedy,” this person wrote, “I realized that the writers were real people with real problems.” How true that is! I look across the list of men and women who pen these articles, and I see cancer and wayward children and unfulfilled dreams and many other kinds of loss. We are indeed just regular, real people writing about a real God who understands our real problems.
The apostle Paul stands out in the Real People Hall of Fame. He had physical problems. He had legal issues. He had interpersonal relationship struggles to deal with. And in all of this messy reality, he was setting an example for us. In Philippians 3:17, he said, “Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do.”
Those around us who need the gospel—who need Jesus—are looking for believable people who can point them to our perfect Savior. And that means we must be real.
You, Lord, are perfection. Yet You welcome us imperfect people to come to You for salvation. You sent Your perfect Son to earth to die for us. Help us to be real and genuine as we seek to point people to You.
If we are true to God, we will not be false to people.
Philippians 3 is a chapter bookended by dramatic contrast. The chapter opens with Paul sharing his credentials within the realm of Judaism: his circumcision, his bloodline as a Jew, his lineage as a Benjamite, his position as a Pharisee, his rigid obedience to Moses’ law, and his commitment to persecuting followers of Christ whom he saw as a threat to the faith of Israel (vv. 5–6). The contrast is found in verse 20, where he declares that because of Christ his “citizenship is in heaven.” From seeking to protect the earthly Israel to being part of a heavenly kingdom is, indeed, a dramatic contrast.