After Paul exhorts us to do things in community without grumbling, arguing and complaining he explains the result of having that humble obedient attitude of Christ. Philippians 2:15 explains, “that you may be blameless 01 twinkleand innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.” Earlier I had compared Paul’s exhortation to us to do everything without “grumbling and complaining” to the episodes recorded in Exodus where all the Israelites grumbled, argued, and complained against the leadership throughout their journey to the Promised Land. None of the adults in that party were allowed to enter, but they all died in the wilderness. The phrase in this passage “crooked and twisted” is the same phrase used in Deuteronomy 32:5 to describe the generation that failed to inherit the land. Could Paul be contrasting a blameless church with a blameworthy Israel? One commentator took it further and observed, “Further, the church now constituted the children of God, and was the true Israel.” Paul wants us to be the “children of God” who are “without blemish” in such an environment.

Israel was called to be a light to the gentile nations. It failed! The world was to be illuminated by the presence of God’s people in such a way as to stand out against the darkness all around it. Christians are exhorted to let our lights shine also. Jesus’ attitude and demeanor of humble obedience and submission should be the guiding example for us. When that’s the case the whole world can be enlightened by the church. But unfortunately, from the very beginning as seen in this letter, the church has failed in many ways to do that, just as Israel did, because it has been riddled with dissension.

It’s easy to miss the point in this passage by focusing solely on the exhortation not to complain or argue with each other. But there’s a purpose behind it. We are to shine like stars in a black world where there are few examples of Christ. We are to have Christ’s attitude to stand out from the rest! This calling is a tall order! One commentator said it will require an “extreme makeover.” He writes, “How can we possibly do that? This gift of salvation also brings with it the gift of power. The power to change. We can no longer justify our behavior with ‘That’s just the way I am,’ because God empowers us to be new. Paul writes about this to the Corinthian church: ‘Therefore, whoever is in Christ is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!’ (2 Cor 5:17.) We don’t have to let our faults rule and ruin us. When we give our lives to Jesus and accept His powerful grace, He literally walks with us and makes us who we are intended to be.”