It’s true that some here preach Christ because with me out of the way, they think they’ll step right into the spotlight. But the others do it with the best heart in the world. One group is motivated by pure love, knowing that I am here defending the Message, wanting to help. The others, now that I’m out of the picture, are merely greedy, hoping to get something out of it for themselves. Their motives are bad. They see me as their competition, and so the worse it goes for me, the better—they think—for them.
18-21 So how am I to respond? I’ve decided that I really don’t care about their motives, whether mixed, bad, or indifferent. Every time one of them opens his mouth, Christ is proclaimed, so I just cheer them on!
Philippians 1: 15-21 The Message
While the Christian church is the “bride of Christ”, it is far from perfect. It is diverse, with churches coming in all sorts of sizes, traditions, and denominations. Not only is there extreme variety in the churches themselves, but their leaders are varied as well.
What are we to think of other denominations, traditions, and leaders? It is so tempting to think that our way is better, and to dismiss other ways of “doing church” as almost wrong. This is particularly the case where some “leaders” seem to proclaim the gospel for less than stellar reasons: solely to gain money, or to exert undue influence, or some other perceived questionable motive.
The Apostle Paul encountered other Christian leaders who did not have his best interests at heart, or even the best interests of their own followers. So how did Paul respond? Rather than become bitter or resentful, or channel his energy into stopping them, Paul looked at the bigger picture. Christ was being proclaimed. Therefore, he rejoiced!
When we are tempted to point out the differences in another church, or label it as “wrong”, why don’t we focus instead on what is right? What would our world look like if Christians treated each other as charitably as Paul treated those who were out to get him? It would probably be a much better, kinder, and more loving world, and church…
Gracious and loving God,
I realize that there are always people who have a heart to serve, but some leaders seem to serve themselves rather than You, or those they lead. Forgive me for my uncharitable thoughts towards them. Remind me that Your word being spoken is what brings You joy. Help me to focus on the biggest goal: rejoicing when the name of Your son is proclaimed, regardless of the circumstances. I pray this prayer in His Holy name. Amen.