Monday, March 19, 2018
Philippians 1:15-18 15 Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. 16 The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. 18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.
When I think from a human perspective about what Paul wrote here, I conclude that he crossed the line of common sense and spiritual purity. Let me explain.
Last week we talked about Paul’s ability to find the good in every situation, no matter how much suffering it was causing him. But I cannot relate to what he says today. His ability to find good in the false pretense of preaching the Gospel is not a part of my nature. It is my natural tendency to correct those who misrepresent the Gospel. Whether they teach direct lies, or misinterpretations, or teach with wrong motives, I somehow feel qualified and authorized to point out their error and if possible to correct them. And as I observe what is happening in Christian culture today, I am not alone in this.
I see a direct connection between the lack of joy in our lives and the abundance of criticism we have towards those who believe differently than we do. Let me be clear – the context of this passage is not Paul’s acceptance of a false Gospel. He is not declaring his joy with false teachers. However, he is clearly rejoicing that the true Gospel is being taught, even when the teacher has impure and even shameful motives.
My heart is truly breaking over the state of the American church. The things I am about to share are hard for me to say, but I must share my heart. Christians are dividing the Body of Christ over prideful pursuits of theological knowledge. We believe that our superior knowledge separates us from others in the Body of Christ who do not have the same knowledge. We move from church to church, and many times the motive for such a move is pride in what is being taught, rather than a humble, loving response to the Holy Spirit’s placement of us where He wants us to serve Jesus. We then proceed to recruit others to follow us. We are dividing the Body of Christ.
Paul warned about this in I Corinthians 8, when he wrote, “Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up. If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.”
We have elevated theological knowledge to a position of higher priority than loving God and sharing the love of Christ.
Compare the current state of the church to what Paul declares in Philippians 1:15-18. When the Gospel of Jesus Christ is being preached, Paul rejoiced, regardless of the motive of the preacher. If Jesus Christ is being proclaimed as Savior, we are to rejoice. If the cross of Christ is being declared as the only means of salvation from sin, then we are to rejoice. If the resurrection of Christ is declared as the way Jesus secured our eternal life, then we are to rejoice.
My friends, we are guilty of not doing this. Knowledge has puffed us up. Pride in what we believe has replaced love for those who do not yet believe. Pride in our preferences has divided us from others in the eternal Body of Christ. All of this has destroyed our joy in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Today, we fall on our knees before the Savior, and confess our sin, and rejoice that whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed.