If, then, there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, make my joy complete by thinking the same way, having the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look not to his own interests, but rather to the interests of others.
If there has been a set of verses that has been the theme of my ministry of leading people it may be these. I’m only 43 years old but I cannot remember a time when people in our society were so partisan, divided and bitter toward one another. Worse is that I can’t remember a time when the church (at least in America) so closely resembled the world at these points.
We’ve become so accustomed to the zero-sum, cable news model of dialogue that we actually believe we are doing the Lord’s work by being loud, selfish, unyielding, unloving, passive-aggressive, petty, small, carnal and mean. It’s no wonder that I have heard it said that Fox News and MSNBC have done a better job of making disciples than many of our churches.
We actually think we represent God well by fighting to have our way. I thank God for all of our “rights” but we act like Philippians 2:5-11 isn’t in the Bible. We are often better Americans than we are Christians. We want our way so much that we can’t even begin to hear what God might actually ask of us…
The longer I am in ministry, the more convinced that there are essentially two types of people and leaders in our church context at least here in the States and in particular the Bible Belt:
This bifurcation has been ruminating in my spirit for several years. The embers were fanned into a fire when I caught a few moments of a sermon by Dr. Tony Evans on the radio a few nights ago. He was talking about faith and going between Hebrews 11:5-6 and Genesis 5:21-24. In the passage in Genesis, we see that Enoch “walked with God.” We see that very phrase twice in these four verses. Dr. Evans made the point that God is always walking and doing his thing and He invites us to walk with Him. However, we often get frustrated because rather than walking with Him, we are determined to make Him walk with us. I didn't hear the whole sermon so I hope I'm doing it justice.
Because our need to make God walk with us, we get frustrated when God won’t “give me that old time religion” or when we can’t be Passion or Elevation in worship style in our local churches. We have no idea or no framework to try to understand what God might actually want us to do because we’re determined to have Him walk with us rather than getting on our knees and faces before God to find out where He is walking so we can walk with Him.
Beloved, we must get up off of our blessed assurance and realize that we’re never going to see a victory if we can’t find and follow the sweet, sweet Spirit that is supposed to bind us together. We’ll find a real blessing when we realize that the ties that bind us are indeed blest. Be like Jesus. He put up with you and me. You can put up with your brothers and sisters… and their music… and sometimes even their politics… Adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus.
Herbert is a believer in Jesus Christ who is overwhelmed by the riches of the Gospel, the husband of April and the father of Cadence, Imani and Angel. He also serves as the Lead Pastor for the Chets Creek Church North Campus in Jacksonville, Florida. He has been serving in full time ministry for more than six years and was a public school music educator for twelve years prior to that. He loves deep philosophical conversation, barbecue and golf even though he stinks at it.