Philippians 1:3-5 “I give thanks to my God for every remembrance of you, always praying with joy for all of you in my every prayer, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.” (HCSB)
When I read these verses it made me consider whether or not Paul would pray “with joy” about my partnership with him, in the the gospel. Obviously Paul is not here today, but is there another Christian in my life that I am seeking to further the gospel with, who would say he joyously prays in thankfulness about my commitment to the gospel of Jesus Christ? Thankfully I say “yes”, but it has not always been so.
It is easy to get complacent as Christians when we are not partnering with someone else to make disciples, share the gospel, and engage in sanctification…which every Christian knows, are all mandates and expectations of our faith.
There is one person in my circle who has been a genuine encouragement to me in the faith–his name is Joel Matchett. That is not to say there are not others, but he stands alone as being someone who has significantly labored with me for Christ in our community. This man considers his relationship with God to be of the utmost importance. Moreover, as a disciple of Jesus Christ, he is committed to sharing the good news with other people that Jesus Christ is indeed the one true God and that through repentance of sin and allegiance to Jesus, one can be saved from God’s wrath that is to come. Joel’s ways are not always perfect, as mine are not. We are all on the journey of sanctification together–that is, those who are His sheep. However, his allegiance to the Lord of hosts is unquestionable. And I truly would say that I thank God for Joel and his zeal because I see him as partnering with me in my quest to further the gospel. I have actually prayed these prayers. The verses at the top of the page convict me and admonish me to be praying more like this and more often. My hope is that he would say the same about me.
Whenever I have been engaged on a mission of any kind I have always felt gratefulness, camaraderie, and a personal connection with those who are on that mission with me. In the church, if I do not feel this way about those I am alongside, then there is a problem. It seems that there are some fellowships where this camaraderie is present and others where it is not.
Personally, this partnership for the gospel has not always been the case. Even as a believer there have been times that I have strayed back into sin and been useless for the Kingdom of God because I isolated myself and became beaten down by my circumstances. I know many Christians fit this category and I am not one to condemn them because I too have been there–though I will assert the truth and seek to bring others up to the place that God desires them to be in. Much like I counted on others to hold the line of holiness so that I could see it when I was falling back into sin. Living in isolation and in sin as a Christian is wrong, and is counter to what the Lord wants. Jesus wants us to partner with one another to reach others with the good news of salvation. We should be actively engaged with one another, taking intentional steps towards personal holiness, towards outreach to the lost, and in service of those who have needs that we can meet.
Unfortunately, I know that in the United States, it has become culturally acceptable to go to church and not actually partner with the body of Christ in that fellowship. Simply put, this is not the will of God. God wants us to be engaging one another in this battle for souls and in this race towards heaven.
The question today is: Who are you partnering with in the faith to further the gospel?