May 14, 2018
Continuing with Polycarp’s letter to the Philippians, he exhorts them to be obedient to “the word of righteousness” as found in the book of Hebrews (5:13). He then goes on to talk about the basis for these righteous or right relationships (with God and others) by referencing key leaders who were exemplars of the word of God.
By referencing Hebrews, Polycarp makes clear that they were to “Remember their leaders, who spoke the word of God to you (“word of righteousness”). [And] consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith” (13:7, NIV).
You see, for Polycarp, the changed life was the only authentic qualifier for authoritative leadership in the body of Christ. Thus, he could commend to them blessed Ignatius and Zosimus and Rufus as having lives worthy of being imitated, because they demonstrated love for God and love for their neighbors. (The Two Greatest Commandments.)
Polycarp, then, rightly concludes that they are to follow these exemplars as these righteous leaders followed the example of the Lord, Jesus Christ. And, Polycarp reminds them, “you have seen with your very eyes” that their lives bear much fruit: “loving the brotherhood”, “cherishing one another”, and “preferring one another”. Thus, to love God and one’s neighbor, is to have “your manner of life above reproach from the heathen.”
This is the Christian message! Whereby, we go from making Jesus our Savior, to making him the Lord of our lives. And, thus allow the world to SEE the real and tangible difference Christ makes in our lives. Polycarp, says, the world will see your “good works” and “the Lord will not be blasphemed. But, rather, be PRAISED! –Michael O’Donnell+