“Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life.” ~Philippians 2:14-15
God’s purpose for you, what God is working in you, what transforms you into a blameless and pure child of his, what allows you to shine like a star, what enables you to hold out the word of life, it all starts with “do everything without complaining or arguing.”
You can’t shine like a star is you’re complaining or arguing.
Think about your life over the past week, maybe just today: at the restaurant, the customer service counter, the post office, the bank, on your street. Think about the people you’re complaining against, or to, or about. What happens if that person shows up next Sunday morning and sits right next to you on your pew? What will you say to them?
You’ll have nothing to say to them. But it won’t matter at that point because they won’t be listening anyway. Not then. Not anymore. Your Christian witness is hindered, if not completely destroyed. You have no credibility.
You claim to be a child of the almighty creator of heaven and earth. You claim to be a subject of the sovereign Lord who defeated sin and death and Satan and reigns at the right hand of God. You claim to be a citizen of an eternal Kingdom that can never be shaken. You claim to belong to a Father who provides and protects his children. But complaining and arguing says you don’t believe a word of it. Your behavior contradicts your belief. You live like those things don’t really matter, like they have no impact on your life. And it wrecks your testimony.
We’ve got to start taking this as seriously as Paul does. Holding out the very word of life is at stake here. Shining as pure and uncontaminated light-givers in a dark, dark world; becoming children of God without fault, especially as the world views us; living free from anything blame-worthy; beyond reproach; credible witnesses in a world that so desperately needs our resurrected Savior.
It’s a little thing. Complaining. Seems almost trivial. Especially maybe to people who complain all the time. But Paul ties it directly to our salvation and our Christian witness and our ability to fulfill God’s mission for our lives. We are God’s shining stars in the universe. And that universe includes the restaurants, the schools, the neighborhoods, the stores, and the banks we visit.
Since March, I’ve been driving down to Waco once a month for a full-day of prayer and study and encouragement and reflection with a group of eight other preachers and an elder. Jim Martin put the group together and I’m eternally grateful he included me from the start. I look forward to these monthly gatherings as a real time of spiritual renewal and personal introspection.
Our time together this month will be even more special. We’re leaving from Waco at 4:30 this afternoon to drive to Lynn Anderson’s house in San Antonio where we will spend the night and then all day tomorrow at the feet of this great man of God. ( “KK&C Top 20” pollsters, your deadline’s been extended. I won’t get the new poll up until late Tuesday night. You now have until 8:00 pm Tuesday to decide whether OU really deserves to be ranked ahead of Texas.) Lynn, of course, is a fantastic preacher of the Gospel and an outstanding author. His They Smell Like Sheep is at the very front of the recent move by elders in God’s Church to re-cast their roles according to the biblical standard as shepherds and teachers, not governors and decision-makers. We’re going to spend all day tomorrow with Lynn talking about church leadership and preaching and ministering and God’s will for his people. I’m anticipating nothing less than a total re-energizing for me and my ministry. I’m expecting to come away more focused and more committed than ever to God’s great cause.
Iron sharpens iron. And I’m certain the sparks will be flying at Lynn’s house tonight and Tuesday.
Last night was the annual “Legacy Family Christmas” performance and dinner. Over 500 of us came together to enjoy our young children singing Christmas carols, readings of Christmas memories submitted by our older members, songs from our singles and middle-married groups, burgers, and pictures with Santa. As usual, the church staff put together a Christmas song with which to bless the congregation. The songs that didn’t make our full cut included:
Deck the halls with tacky fences.
Out in the parking lot, near and far;
There’s no room for no more cars!
You better watch out, keep your head down;
Don’t look now, he’s coming around!
Kent needs men to move a few chairs.
Grandma got run over by a Wiggler
Walking way too slowly by Pod C.
Grandma says that we should be more careful,
Or we’ll be taking her to H-E-B.
Sung to the tune of “Walking in a Winter Wonderland,” here’s what we presented last night: “Working for the Church at Legacy.”
Class bells ring, so annoying;
Coleman Ar-cher, candy throwing;
A service we lost, we love our new cross,
Working for the church at Legacy.
Gone away is the gray van;
Never gon-na get a new van.
The tires will blow, and we’ll need a tow,
Hitching our way back to Legacy.
In the concourse you’ll find lots of tables,
And free Bibles at the Lost and Found.
You’ll say where’s the coffee and the donuts?
We’ll say you can find it further down.
When it works, ain’t it thrillin’?
(mouthing words here only, no sound)
It’s out and it’s in; how much did we spend?
Working on the sound at Legacy.
In November we elected elders,
After Allan beat it in the ground (Amen!)
We’ll have lots of fun with our new elders,
Until the weekly meetings beat them down.
Later on, we’ll perspire,
Sitting by Todd’s fake fire.
We’re slightly afraid of the song that we made.
Working for the church at Legacy.
Hope we’re still employed at Legacy.