This morning, 5 of us (myself, and boys between the ages of 6 and 12) dragged our feet out the door, in to my small truck, and in to the church office before the sun came up to encourage kids on the other side of the world. I sent a message to a brother in Christ in the Philippines, and I spoke with brothers in various parts of Africa and the Middle East. All before the Sun came up. I do not say this to boast or brag, I don’t have a reason to, but people are gathering, at times for hours upon hours, to gather with God and His people. And more often than not, these people have so much less than we do.
In the west, when we look for a congregation to join, we look for the comfort factors. We seek what makes us feel good, the traditions we are used to, the right temperature. We look for what makes us feel good. We make seeking the God of the Universe, who sent His Son to die and pay the penalty for our sins all about us, when the fact is, none of it is about us at all. It’s about Him. I’m going to level with you, dear and beloved reader: going to church is not about checking off a box, God is not impressed with our credentials, we can do nothing to make God love us more or less than He already does. He sent His Son to die for us while we were yet His enemies. Jesus took care of sin at the Cross, and Death when he walked out of the grave, and offers New Life to those who believe in Him, once for all. In this life, we’re designed to glorify God. We don’t get to determine how that looks. The Church does not belong to us, it belongs to Him, and if we’re not glorifying God in certain parts of our life, while doing it in others, we need an overhaul. We made in the image of God. We exist to bring Him Glory. This must be what our lives are all about.
“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.