Ya know, there are some verses in the Bible that I think we would rather ignore. I’m not necessarily talking about the difficult parts of Scripture dealing with war, slavery, women’s roles, hell, etc. I’m talking about the simpler, toe-stepping passages that make you think, Yeah, but… or even, He’s talking about someone else, not me…
As Mark Twain famously stated, “It ain’t those parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.”
I agree, Mr. Twain.
And one of those passages is this:
Do everything without grumbling<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(Y)”> or arguing, so that you may become blameless<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(Z)”> and pure, “children of God<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(AA)”> without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Philippians 2:14-15
How many people in your church need to hear that preached from the pulpit? As you’re tallying the number in your head, go on and include yourself in that. I know I sure need it.
How many times have you caught yourself complaining about things at church? The sermon’s too long. The songs were all old and slow. The lady behind you has way too much perfume. The building is too hot. These young people have no reverence. Those old people need to loosen up.
Complaining is the norm, if you haven’t noticed. We have entire reality shows based around people complaining about other people. In this political season, especially, the poor complain that they aren’t being helped enough while the rich folks complain that they’re having to pick up the slack with their hard earned money.
We complain, grumble, and argue about everything under the sun. We even complain about complainers! If things don’t go your way, just throw a fit until someone greases your squeaky wheel. That’s what my two-year-old does, at least. If it works for him, it could work for me, right?
But I think most complaining and grumbling, especially in the church, occurs when we lose sight of the bigger picture. I mean, the return of Christ and eternal life with him in heaven should outweigh the date in which a song was written. Christ dying on the cross should force us to put things into perspective.
And that’s exactly what Paul was trying to get across. Christ emptied himself of all his rights, all his privileges, all his powers and became a man. As a man he became obedient to the point of death on a cross. And if you recall, he didn’t gripe and complain all the way up to Golgotha.
Jesus had the bigger picture in mind – the redemption of all humanity.
Paul also gives the example of Timothy and Epaphroditus. Timothy, he says, is constantly putting the interests of Christ and others above his own agenda. Epaphroditus once fell sick and nearly died in the service of Christ – and he was upset that he caused the Philippians to worry about him!
Do everything without complaining or arguing. That becomes a lot easier once you realize how trivial most of the things in this life are.
Let’s keep it in perspective.
Unity in Christ is more important than our own agenda.
Preaching Christ is more important than the methods by which he is preached.
Our heavenly citizenship trumps our earthly citizenship.
The goal of eternity in heaven far outweighs any suffering here on planet earth.
The peace of God outshines the clouds of doubt and anxiety.
Paul, as tactfully and lovingly as I’ve ever seen anyone, basically tells individuals in the church at Philippi to get over themselves and start focusing on the bigger picture.
Is there a message today’s church needs to hear more than this?