Philippians IV: It Doesn’t Have To Be MY Way

Some indeed preach Christ even out of envy and strife, and some also out of good will. The former insincerely preach Christ from selfish ambition, thinking that they add affliction to my chains; but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the Good News.

What does it matter? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed. I rejoice in this, yes, and will rejoice.      Philippians 1:15-18 (WEB)

Even back in what I may think of as that utopia-like first century church, not everyone who spoke for God did so with pure motives. Some manipulated their message in order to attack Paul or Peter or their neighbor. Paul wasn’t above the pain of these attacks. He was not a theological computer cranking out inspired letters.

But Paul urges me here to broaden my vision to see the bigger picture and allow differences, applauding results even when they comes as a result of a method not in my list of preferences. I can easily bring this into my own life when I see people use the same curriculum year after year or the same order of worship 52 Sundays following the next 52 Sundays. I like a ‘fresh’ infusion into my study and worship. However, many people find comfort in the known and the fences that do not move. Petty differences become important when we make them important.

My husband, Henry, tells a story on himself and how he learned a lesson. Henry has a Masters degree in Biblical Languages. He reads his Hebrew Old Testament and Greek New Testament the way that I read my NIV. He came out of seminary able to pick apart a sermon, finding small ‘errors’ that would obliterate any valid point that the speaker might have made. God convicted and healed Henry from that ‘affliction’. Now he is able to hear the Good News and file the rest away to study another time, maybe.

Paul differentiates between those who make trouble for him personally vs. those who pervert the message itself. Have you ever taught a Bible class or preached a sermon or shared your testimony and had someone say, “Well, Jody doesn’t know what she is talking about”. That is an attack on me, not the message. Or maybe you have been rejected as a teacher because you didn’t have the right credentials (degrees) or you’re a woman or you’re too young. Yes, that hurts and is frustratingly so wrong. But a wise person once reminded me that God will not ‘waste’ His gifts. If a person has wrongly blocked opportunities for God to use you – God will move you. It is important that I do not stand there staring at a closed door or go throw myself a pity party (“Pity Party – table for 1!”) but instead continue to allow God to prepare and send me to another place.

[Jesus said,] “If people do not welcome you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave their town, as a testimony against them.”     Luke 9:5 (NIV)

Here is a place where I understand why God wants me to have brothers and sisters that are believers to help me to discern these situations. It would be too easy to allow my flesh, my feelings, to twist me up and set me on a wrong path. Here is where my relationship with Jesus brings me to the place of blessing those who curse me (Matthew 5:11) and moving on down the road as He directs me.

Praise God for those women and men, girls and boys, very young and those very mature who preach Christ – and Him crucified!

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