“I have gotten everything. It is more than enough. I have plenty since I received the things you sent with Epaphroditus. It is an acceptable sacrifice, a sweet smell that pleases God.” Phil 4:18 (Simple English Bible)
Exactly what does it take to please God? A prayer, a communion meditation, perhaps a lengthly, well-prepared sermon in front of thousands? Hey, how ’bout a rip-roaring worship service with a band, 100-voice choir and a mime? Just what would it really take? I think any serious Christian asks themselves this question: is what I am doing, pleasing to God’s purpose and Will? Can I make a significant contribution to ensure that my service to the Lord is welcomed and necessary for the Kingdom? And the answer is a resounding: YES!
So, what is it?
If you open the Letter to the Philippians and read the preceding verses in Chapter 4, you’ll see that the Christians in Philippi heard of a need and responded. When the chips were down, they were there. I’m not sure if they had a committee meeting or had a consultation with the church board but of this I am certain: Paul said that he got their gifts and if fulfilled his needs! That was the good news. The bad news was that it was only the churches in Philippi who stepped up to the plate and met the challenge. They gave — period! Their focus and attention was to continue the spread of the gospel in Paul’s ministry even if it meant that they had to contribute of themselves.
It was a sacrifice but it was pleasing to our Father in Heaven.
That’s what it takes: are you ready for the challenge?
“Festus talked about this with his advisors. Then he said, You have asked to see Caesar; so to Casesar you will go!” Acts 25:12 (Simple English Bible)
I remember creating a hullabaloo about very little. Perhaps I was cranky, frustrated or just plain angry at being slighted. But it resulted in a bigger bun fight than I could ever imagined. I had overplayed my hand and got it burned in the fire. The sad thing was that it was a trivial matter, which I should’ve let go and walked away. Instead, I stood my ground, knowing that I was being ridiculous and prickly, just to make a point. The upshot of it was that I lost badly. Okay, I was only ten and it was during a kickball game with my classmates. The teacher pinned my ears back for being so silly and holding up the game.
I think we all have this inner stubborn kid unwilling to yield and just let the small things fade out. Perhaps it is pride or just plain stupidity. We like to rationalize it by claiming “it’s a matter of principle!” and force our will over others. In fact, we know full well inside that we’re being childish.
In the church, there isn’t much room for this attitude, although sadly, it is there a lot more than it should be. A congregation is a team effort, each doing their part, helping and caring for one another despite the hiccups and mistakes. Our goals should always be the glory of our Lord and His will over our own. There will be times when we must just step back and shut up. We should ignore the little differences and errors and remain focused on the prize — a lost soul coming to repentance! Our prickliness and pride should take a backseat when it comes to serving those in need.
If you’re holding onto a little prickle right now, please give it up!
“When the earthly tent is which we live is destroyed, we know that we will have another building, which comes from God, a house in the heavenly worlds, not man-made. It lasts forever.” II Cor 5:1 (Simple English Bible)
Don’t get comfortable. Don’t rely on your pension or Social Security. We’re all taking a trip into the Unknown one day. Perhaps soon, maybe later but this journey will happen, whether we’re ready for it or not. We might not even like it but it is inevitable. God has designed our tents (our bodies) to decay and return to the earth from which it was taken. And there’s nothing we can do about it no matter how much goop, lotion, gunk or slimy stuff we smear on our bodies!
Yet, I see Christians ready to live large and ignore the will of our King. We’re not living in a Christian democracy or evenly spread social scheme. During this period on earth, we have been given to serving others in every way we can and at every opportunity that is given to us. I’m not sure if my pensionable amount will suffice if I live beyond 98! And many Christians have assets that will last way beyond that!
We can’t afford to rest on our laurels or set back and enjoy the view. The Kingdom is coming and the King will return at a time and place we do not know. Like the five virgins awaiting the arrival of the groom, we must keep out lamps trimmed and our hopes fresh. We are an expectant people. We know that our future isn’t here.
And when our King comes, He should find us so busy that He has to tap us on our shoulders to get our attention.
Well, I hope so!