Read: Philippians 1:12-19
Whether their motives are false or genuine, the message about Christ is being preached either way, so I rejoice. And I will continue to rejoice (Philippians 1:18).
The church can be a messy place. Although we should never use God’s grace as a reason to deliberately sin, believers in Jesus do mess up—sometimes with tragic results. Extramarital affairs, financial mismanagement or fraud, lying, manipulation, abuse, or skewed teaching—most of us have heard of horror stories coming straight out of the church—the bride of Christ.
George Verwer, founder of Operation Mobilization, calls it “Messiology.” In more than sixty years in Christian ministry, he says he’s seen God—by His grace—continue to work through His people in spite of the mess sadly created by their sins and mistakes.
As we read about the early church, we realize that the Bible too is full of imperfect people who struggled with many broken, difficult situations. Scripture declares we’re being changed “into [Jesus’] glorious image” (2 Corinthians 3:18), but we’re not perfect yet. From its earliest days we see how sin and disunity threatened to undermine the church, and it’s the same today. Together with the apostle Paul, however, we can be confident “that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns” (Philippians 1:6).
God in His grace and wisdom can use broken people in messy situations to bring others into relationship with Christ and to further establish the kingdom of heaven on earth. Paul noted that, amazingly, He can even use those preaching “with selfish ambition” (Philippians 1:17-18). May that not be true of us however. In God’s strength may we live and spread the wisdom of God in harmony with other believers in Jesus—practicing love and reconciliation when things get messy.
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