“The important thing is that…Christ is preached.” ~Philippians 1:18
While Paul is in jail there are some other preachers there in Rome piling on. They’re preaching Christ out of envy and rivalry. Their motivations are all wrong. They’re involved in power plays and intentionally trying to harm Paul and discredit him in the eyes of the church and the community. It’s selfish. It’s insincere. And Paul says, Surprise!
“It doesn’t matter. The important thing is that Christ is preached. And because of this, I rejoice.”
At the end of the day, after all their efforts to oppose Paul, they’ve only succeeded in doing the one thing that matters most to Paul: they’re preaching Christ! Paul’s not concerned about identifying this group. In fact, it’s impossible to tell who these other preachers are here, because to Paul, that’s not important. These other preachers are mean and selfish and they’re using Paul’s chains to promote themselves. But they’re preaching Christ and him crucified for the forgiveness of sins. So Paul’s attitude is just like what he told the Corinthians: “Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated?”
Just as in Corinth Paul felt it was more important for the church to act like the church than for its members to receive the personal satisfaction of winning lawsuits, he takes his own advice here in Rome. He’s facing people who’ve wronged him. But he shrugs off their animosity and is able to rejoice because they’re preaching Christ.
We have a hard time with that, I think. But we’re in good company.
The apostles run to Jesus in Luke 9 and say, “We saw a man driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him because he is not one of us.” And Jesus says don’t do that! Just because he’s not with you doesn’t mean he’s not with me.
If we’re going to experience a revival, if we’re going to experience a spiritual awakening, we’re going to have to understand that God’s salvation work is bigger than me and what I’m doing. His work to redeem the world is bigger than us and what we’re doing. He’s using me. He’s using us. No question. Praise God. But he’s using all kinds of people in all kinds of places to reconcile creation back to himself. And when we have that joyful perspective, we don’t argue or bicker or fight with Christians who don’t do things the way we do things. We don’t talk bad about them. We don’t look down on them in any way.
But, Allan, they don’t do this! Or have you seen the way they do that?
Paul says, so what? “What does it matter? The important thing is that Christ is preached.” And we praise God that here’s another group of disciples proclaiming the life, death, and resurrection of our common Lord.