Summary: Paul felt a sense of joy and comfort with the Church in Philippi. We can experience that same joy and comfort by functioning as partners in ministry.
April 5, 2006
Text Phillipians 1:3-5
3 I thank my God every time I remember you. 4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first until now.
Partnership ------ what a great concept ----- The very idea of a good partnership exudes warmth. Two or more people, working together towards mutually desirable goals. Two or more people with different perspectives and abilities respecting the views, talents, dreams and abilities of other partners. Even the synonyms for partner sound good: associate, colleague, confederate, sharer, companion, spouse. With the passage of time, even the term comrade is reverting to its original meaning. There is a lesson here with respect to law and Gospel. Under the threat of countries existing under totalitarian law, and our fear of nuclear annihilation, comrade became an ugly term connoting blind, almost fanatical, obedience to a Godless state. With the freedom of the Gospel, comrade is a comforting term. For example, Paul and Timothy were truly comrades - partners -- united in a common goal, not out of fear or force, but in grateful response to the Gospel - the Good News about Jesus Christ.
Paul in his letter to the Philippians feels the joy of a partnership in the Gospel -- a partnership that is centered around Christ Jesus and nurtured by the Holy Spirit.
In the business and professional world, achieving the rank of partner is a sought after goal.
More important than the trappings of rank -- corner offices, private restrooms and fancy conference rooms-- is the level of involvement and commitment in achieving the goals of the business -- a sense of satisfaction for a job well done with the cooperation of others..
Employees of a firm are involved in the business, customers of the business are involved -- but, partners are committed.
I often think of an illustration about commitment. When we order ham and eggs in a restaurant for breakfast, we can think of the chicken as being involved in the project and the pig as being committed to the project. True partnership means commitment. Partners stick together and stay committed -- customers will jump ship when the going gets rough or when there is a better deal someplace else. Employees will also abandon ship in stormy seas. Partners in the Gospel share a common biblical vision. A passion for the Lord, a passion for the great commission and a passion for ministry. Partners in the church realize that we all have gifts given for works of service so that the body of Christ will be built up. All of the gifts are important -- some are more visible -- but all are important. Partners realize that an extremely important task is the training and equipping of others for ministry. Partners know that they must mature in the faith and facilitate others to also grow in faith by teaching and/or mentoring. Partners minister to the needs of other partners, employees, customers and potential customers.
For our partnership in the Gospel to function we need to treat our partners as God would want us to treat them. Sounds simple enough until we let sin enter the picture. Satan starts the process. We start to think only of ourselves and not others. We start to keep score -- “I do more than he does -- I should have more to say.” “ I give a lot of ‘my money’ to this church and I am determined to tell the church what they can do with it.” “I work in the background and he works in the limelight.” Instead of employing Matthew 18:15-18 when a brother or sister sins against us, we talk to others and gossip. Sin is what causes us to look to ourselves and our building as the mission rather than as a tool to help accomplish the mission.