Saying goodbye is never easy! Next week I start a new ministry, but this week I saw goodbye to a ministry that helped shape me. As we saw yesterday, the Holy Spirit unites us together as partners in the Gospel. Regardless of what we have in distinction, we are one through Christ! As Paul continues he reveals that what God begins, he finishes.
God began a good work in us! (Philippians 1:6) 6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
We get all the hope for humanity in one verse, God’s work for us began at the cross through Christ, continued through the Holy Spirit’s work in us, and will be completed by Christ’s return to rework the world. We get a promise of progress towards completion. When you want to throw up your hands in frustration, when you are left sighing so heavily it could knock over a small shack, wondering, “Does any of this matter at all?” Here is a promise that your effort is an investment, that when you give of yourself, God is willing to give you more and more of himself! It is a promise that all the work you are called to do is building to something, is actually building you up as a new someone, and that all the effort isn’t all an existential experiment.
This phrase, carrying it on to completion, reminds me of a construction site. In fact, it specifically reminds me of working part-time doing construction. We took properties that were in some dire need of TLC and revamped, reworked, and redesigned them. (By we, I mean the person I was working with, I found out construction isn’t my gift). I remember the first day that I worked with him, the house was a dump, a wreck, nothing that I would have looked at twice, and the next day it was still the same, the day after that no real noticeable difference, same thing, day after day, finally, I was wondering, are we making a difference at all. Finally, about 2 months in, I saw the before pictures which had taken, and it was stunning! Radically different! In the midst of the everyday I had started to miss the change.
The same thing can start happening inside the church. We can stop seeing the transformation through the day to day grind. The good work that Christ started is not one of just continued existence, but of kingdom expansion and transformation. We have to be careful, as soon as just existing another year becomes the goal of the church, it will stop trying to continue the mission of expanding the Gospel. The existing mindset will always come as the expense of the expanding mindset, because sharing the Gospel is challenging, new relationships are at first uncomfortable, people before covenanting with Christ are messy, broken, and needy, just like we were. All the while, existing requires almost nothing. Remember we are part of a global initiative, with a global reach—“all people’s on earth will be blessed through you.” Christ calls us out of what is comfortable towards what is compelling, gritty, and all-consuming. Don’t play it safe! Continue reaching out to your community, meeting tangible needs in hopes of bringing God tangibly into their life. Whether a food pantry, after-school program, prayer walks, marriage seminars or a myriad of other ideas. Each outreach is just an opportunity for a new opening! 🙂