August 3, 2017
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 day until now, 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.
The little church in Phillipi didn’t have a street address, but they knew their station. Birthed in a dream, they they didn’t have a vision—they were a vision. Remember this?
During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them. Acts 16:9-10.
Named by Phillip II, father of Alexander the Great, Phillipi had its own storied past. It was the site of the most significant military engagement in all the Roman Empire. In 42 BC Mark Antony and Octavius conquered the Republican forces of the assassins of Julius Caesar, Cassius and Brutus. Phillipi was the pride of the Empire, a “little Rome” for which the empire had high hopes.
This is how it all began in Philippi. They were the “First Church” in town. They were the “First Church” in all of Europe! In one sense or another, this is how every church we see today began—as a dream, a vision, a small group of people who saw it and welcomed it from a distance, beckoning the horizon of Kingdom of God into their town.
When the people heard the letter and words like, “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus,” they didn’t hear it as so many isolated individuals searching for isolated individual self-fulfilling lives in the world. They heard it more like the Pittsburgh Steelers would hear a coach beckoning them toward the Super Bowl.
Somehow we’ve lost our sense of the local church as the Pittsburgh Steelers. We have lost the sense of our towns and cities as battle fields of darkness vs. light and of death vs. life. We have lost the sense of our fellowship (no matter how small or large) as the tip of the spear of the Kingdom of God. What if we could see our churches that way again, as movements in our communities? To one degree or another, that’s how every one of them began. What if we could begin again? Would you want to?
I tend to repeat my favorite quotes on the Daily Text, so if I’ve given you this one before, this means it’s time to hear it again. It’s from C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters, a series of short letters written from the vantage point of a senior demon instructing a junior demon on how to effectively tempt people. This excerpt is from a letter concerning the church.
One of our great allies at present is the Church itself. Do not misunderstand me. I do not mean the Church as we see her spread out through all time and space and rooted in eternity, terrible as an army with banners. That, I confess, is a spectacle which makes our boldest tempters uneasy. But fortunately it is quite invisible to these humans.
Abba Father, we thank you for your son, Jesus, who would make all of our churches outposts of the Kingdom of God against which the gates of hell will not prevail. Rekindle our sense of the church from your point of view. Awaken me to the possibilities of my church anew. We pray in Jesus name. Amen.
- Pastors and leaders, you didn’t answer a call to ministry in order to become a religious service provider did you? So why did you do it?
- Church members, you didn’t join the church to be a religious consumer using the goods of the church primarily to meet your own needs did you? So why did you do it?
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J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. email@example.com.