“Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ…”
This is a command given by Paul for those who claim to be Christians to live in manner worthy of the gospel of Jesus Christ. What kind of a manner is worthy of the gospel of Christ? As put in Ephesians 4:2, “With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love.” It is putting on the character of Jesus Christ and discarding your own.
“…Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence…”
Not only living as a Christian in the presence of others, at the church, in fellowship, and when others are watching (as if to impress them) but when alone, in solitude with nothing between you and the Lord. In the state of pure character, the Christian should live in the manner worthy of the gospel. Paul was also interested in hearing a good report from others who beheld their lives.
“…I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you.”
On the topic of unity, we pursue the unity of the brethren, but mostly the wrong way. We try to be one in spirit without the Spirit! We create all sorts of fleshly activities to “make unity”, no different than any secular clubs or programs. The only way to be united together is to be united with Jesus, as He and the Father are one. If we all unite with Jesus individually, then we automatically unite with one another. It does not work the other way around. “For ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28) Any other form of unity is of the world. Once Christ-ian unity is achieved, the body will be able to stand firm and contend for the faith, without being frightened in any way. To answer for the circumstance of the present day Church, we are as we are because we have tried to be united some other way than Jesus.
“This is a sign to them that will be destroyed, but that you will be saved - and that by God.”
When we as believers live holy lives, worthy of the gospel, this will reveal to those under condemnation their ungodliness, bringing it into the light. When they see the difference in a Christian then they will know Jesus has risen! For what does it profit the unbeliever to hear of Christ’s saving power only to witness a “Christian” living the same as he? Preaching truth will always find itself wanting unless there is a living truth, and that is what will stir the sinner, proving to them their future destruction and the salvation that is found in Jesus Christ alone.
“For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him…”
For it has not simply been granted that we believe on Jesus and be saved, but that we suffer for Him. It is granted to believers that we suffer for Him! This is a benefit of Christianity. Having something granted to you is a gift, and there is no greater gift that should brings joy to the saint than to share in the suffering of the Lord Jesus Christ. When a person carries his or her cross after the Christ, living in that manner worthy of the gospel, they make a bold statement to the world that they are followers of Jesus Christ, and this act is the sound of horror to the very ears of Satan. It is then that the suffering will begin to manifest, and in the darkest moments of life the brightest visions of glory take place, and the presence of the Almighty God draws near. It is no wonder that the church of North America is not persecuted, for we have not wanted to accept the gift of sharing in Christ's sufferings, thus we are what we are.