“STRENGTHENING our GRIP…”
“14 Do all things without grumbling or questioning, 15that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.” – Philippians 2:14-16 (ESV)
Jim Wallis writes in The Call to Conversion (HarperCollins, 1992, p. 108) his testimony: “When I was a university student, I was unsuccessfully evangelized by almost every Christian group on campus. My basic response to their preaching was, “How can I believe when I look at the way the church lives?” They answered, “Don’t look at the church, look at Jesus.” I now believe that statement is one of the saddest in the history of the church. …People should be able to look at the way we live and begin to understand what the gospel is about. Our lives must tell them who Jesus is and what he cares about.” – (SermonCentral.com)
Sadly, today, people are still asking the same question that Jim Wallis set forth. People are continually becoming more non-responsive as they witness things happening in churches. Worse, some even are leaving their churches as they experience discouragement in a place they expected to be a haven of love and grace. Therefore, our respond to this growing challenge would determine the effectiveness of our efforts to reach out to people outside the church.
Let us take our encouragement from God’s Word through apostle Paul to the Philippians (Philippians 2:14-16). On these verses, Paul reminded the believers in Philippi of the importance of their testimony. “The purpose of the command in v. 14 is that the Philippians might be blameless light bearers ‘in a world full of crooked and perverse people’ (New Living Translation). They should deserve no censure because they are free from fault or defect in relation to the outside world. If the Philippian believers were going to have a testimony in their community, they had to be blameless in their actions and attitudes, both inside and outside the church.” (NKJV Study Bible). They would be light bearers by their example and testimony to the world.
And how will this be possible? By “holding fast to the word of life”. By holding fast to the truth of the gospel message. “To hold fast” in the Greek can mean to “hold fast or firmly” or “to hold out, offer.” Two meanings complement each other to read that as they “hold firmly to the gospel truth, they will hold it out,” – that is to portray the word of life in the world around them (Tydale NT Commentary on Philippians). This reminds us of the power of the Word of God in transforming lives. This is the very reason why God’s Word should continually be central in the worship and ministry of the church.
This is the very focus of our church this year (WIN Ireland 2011 Theme – “Strengthening Our Grip”). A theme which is set forth in the following objectives for the church:
1. Growing relationship with God
2. Re-affirmed love for God’s community
3. Intentional discipleship into radiant lives, and
4. Passionate evangelism
We believe that as we hold fast to this word of life (God’s Word), the result would be a greater intimacy with God. We pray that this nearness of God’s presence will lead to changed and radiant lives and stronger bond in our church community that can affect greatly the effectiveness of our evangelism.
People still need to hear God’s Word, yet still, the Word that is manifested in our lives. As someone had said, “Jesus is the Word who became flesh, may His Word becomes flesh in our lives.” May this be our prayer and desire this year!
God bless us all.
Pastor Manny De Leon