Today’s reading comes from Philippians 1:20-26. It is titled, “Paul’s life for Christ”. Verses 21-24 explains Paul’s heart. They gives us a glimpse of his priorities.
“For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better. I’m torn be- tween two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me. But for your sakes, it is better that I continue to live”.
For Paul, living was all about Christ. He was all consumed with Christ. He desired earnestly to go and be with Christ, but knew staying here would mean he could continue His work in the world.
Paul knew he could help others come to know Christ, he could plant churches, and he could strengthen the churches he had planted. In short his mission was to know Christ and make Him known.
Over the years I have known people like this. They have been completely sold out for God’s Kingdom. Their life was hidden in Christ and His will was all they wanted. Some are alive still serving, while some have gone to be with their Lord.
I am so inspired by these three verses and the sold out Kingdom people I have met over the years. It is something that I aspire to myself. I hope and pray that I can wholeheartedly say, “To live is Christ, to die is gain”.
Dear God, thank You for Paul’s words in this passage. Thank You for his commit- ment to Christ and his commitment to making Him known. I pray today that I will have that same commitment to Christ and to His mission in this world. I pray my life will be all about Christ. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Two of the images I like to hold in my mind for undertaking any ministry tasks are bridges and ladders. It doesn’t matter if you are a Sunday School Teacher, a Pastor or a Chaplain. It helps with all of them.
The first image is that of a bridge. Bridges help us to get from one place to another. It is usually over the top of something that is hard to go through. As a minister I try to imagine building bridges to help people cross from where they are to somewhere else. If I am in a school it might be a relationship bridge from a student to a teacher so they can better understand each other. If in the church it might be a teaching bridge that helps people understand one aspect of our faith. If I am talking to a person who does not know Jesus, it might be a salvation bridge so the person can understand how much Jesus loves them and wants to be in relationship with them.
The other image is that of a ladder. In the natural ladders help us to climb higher. In a career sense people use them to climb higher and often climb over people to get what they want. Years ago I decided not to climb the ladder, but to be a ladder builder. Rather than use the ladder to climb up the career ladder, I decided to build ladders so we can all rise up together. If it is in a school I want to build ladders so the students can grow and learn. If it is in church I want to be a ladder builder so people can grow in their faith, become closer to God and become true disciples of Christ. This is always at the forefront of my mind and helps me to keep focused on the task of Matthew 28:18-20 to go and make disciples.
Often when I am praying I am asking God to show me the bridge that will help a person to move on. Or I ask for help building the ladder that the person needs to climb higher in one area of their lives. It is two simple images, but they help me a lot.
How about you? Have you got any images that help you with you ministry tasks? Perhaps that is worth reflecting on today?