This is one of those times of the year when school students gather in gymnasiums and pool their vocal resources to cheer on their teams. Boisterous comradery is a part of such activities. (I remember my own days as a high school student, sitting in bleachers, or riding on crowded school busses, singing the praises of our team.) I suspect that St. Paul could have understood this; and beyond feeling this way, he could easily have supported and encouraged it within reason.
This was really what he was doing in our text. He cited the risks of supporting and rooting for the wrong team. He clearly identified them as “enemies of the cross of Christ.” He made a clear prediction of their team and their aspirations – “their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame.” And finally, in verses 20 and 21 St. Paul gave a clear statement of who and what we are – redeemed sinners and believers in Jesus Christ. Paul also gave a clear statement of what would happen to Jesus’ followers. Their bodies would be transformed.
St. Paul’s cheer is simple and clear: “Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.”
These are times when we need such pep talks – sickness, aging, the prospect of death, distance and separation from loved ones. There are wars and rumors of war. There are financial perils of many sorts. These are times when we need to be strengthened and encouraged. These are times when we need to hear our Savior’s voice and hear His promises. We need to feel His hand on our hand. Jesus is with us always. He will neither leave us nor forsake us. Jesus Christ, who fought the fight and won the war is on our side! He is now in heaven preparing everlasting homes for us! Jesus “will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.”
We can cheer with confidence and joy! Jesus lives. Jesus lives. The victory is won!
We pray: Lord Jesus Christ, the devil seeks to destroy our faith and weaken our resolve. Help us, by your Spirit, to always remember and celebrate your victory over sin, death and the devil for our salvation! Amen.