Monday, 15 December 2008

"What does it matter...?"

I've spent the day soaking in Philippians 1, challenged again by Paul's attitude in putting the gospel first that caused him be to be willing to face personal discomfort, denigration of his name and bruised feelings so long as the gospel is preached.

What shines through this passage is the great splendour, goodness, potency and effect of the proclaimed gospel message, and the glory that goes to Christ through its proclamation. In the light of the gospel, nothing else can hold first place for our ambitions and motivations.

Here are two quotes I've been reflecting on today in this light:

"Putting the gospel first ought not to be the exception among us, but the rule. We are talking about the good news that reconciles lost men and women to the eternal God. We are confessing the gospel: that God himself has provided a redeemer who died, the just for the unjust, to bring us to himself. Without the gospel we are cut off, without hope in this world or the next, utterly undone. Compared with this good news, what could possibly compete?" (Don Carson, Basics for Believers)
"[O]ne day, as we know from his promises, he [Christ] will come again in unimaginable splendor to perfect his kingdom. We are commanded to watch and be ready. Meanwhile, the gap between his two comings is to be filled with the Christian missionary enterprise. We have been told to go to the ends of the earth with the gospel, and we have been promised that the end of the age will come only when we have done so. The two ends (of earth space and time) will coincide. Until then he has pledged to be with us. So the Christian mission is an urgent task. We do not know how long we have. We certainly have no time to waste. And in order to get on urgently with our responsibility, other qualities will be necessary, especially unity (we must evangelize together) and sacrifice (we must count and accept the cost). Our covenant at Lausanne was "to pray, to plan and to work together for the evangelization of the whole world". Our manifesto at Manila is that the whole church is called to take the whole gospel to the whole world, proclaiming Christ until he comes, with all necessary urgency, unity and sacrifice." (The Manila Manifesto, Lausanne Covenant 1989)

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