Thursday, September 15, 2011

a life worthy of the gospel Philipians 1:20-30

Paul wrote to the church in Philipi about being church. He said things plainly. And he said that what was important was living a life worthy of the gospel of Christ. Paul wrote

Only, live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that, whether I come and see you or am absent and hear about you, I will know that you are standing firm in one spirit, striving side by side with one mind for the faith of the gospel, (Philipians 1:27 NRSV)
I've been thinking about this verse as I prepare to give a short meditation at a 100th anniversary celebration for a congregation where I served for 5 years. Every church that I've been part of, from my childhood on, has been a place to learn what God's Word means. I hope that in the church today that we are teaching these same lessons to everyone else who we invite in, nurture in faith, serve along side of, and send into the world. I hope that we are being witnesses in service and compassion and if need be that we will witness with our words.

Many people say they are unqualified to be witnesses on God's behalf. Many say their sins and limitations are too great for God to use them. But a God of boundless grace really does use the broken. He uses broken people to share his light. I remember reading this passage in a cardiac ICU. Paul told the church in Corinth

For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
7But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. 8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. 11 For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh. 12 So death is at work in us, but life in you. 2 Corithinians 4:6-12 NRSV.
We are the broken vessels, the cracked-pots who God will use. We are the one's He chooses to bring His light to the world. Over and over we see that powerful witnesses to God's work have some of the greatest cracks. Saints with deep flaws and scars are the ones that God really uses to let His light shine in the world. John the Baptist came calling people to turn away from their sin and be baptized. The Risen Christ takes us from that first moment washed and claimed and puts his light in us to shine through the cracks for the good of the world. AMEN.

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