Imagine what it would feel like to be surrounded by people who genuinely appreciate the small things in life, ones who are grateful, thankful and content. To be part of a community who affirm each other, not to get something for themselves, but because they truly care for one another. Well, this is who the Church is biblically... This is who we can be when we remember who we are because of Jesus.
"...God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. 14 Do everything without complaining and arguing, 15 so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. 16 Hold firmly to the word of life..."
I'm not talking here about mustering up the strength to force a smile and say "Jesus loves you". No! What we see here is God at work. God giving us the desire and the power to be this way. It is a response to who we are in Christ, not a guilt driven, religious command. We are free to enjoy whatever we have, wherever we are and whomever we are with. That is a freedom only found when we are secure in our identity in Christ.
See, when we know that we belong (to Jesus/in his family) then our belief (of who He is, what He's Done and who we are because of that) brings joy and transformation. Only then will our behaviour start to reflect Jesus. That's the order, and that is what we see happening in these verses.
If you believe that to be true, if you believe that we [the church] are precious to God, protected for eternity and are a purpose filled family, then...
I want to put out a small challenge, what would it look like if for a month, just one month, we all took Philippians 2:14 literally. "Do everything without complaining and arguing." Would we actually be light that shine in darkness? A reflector that draws others to the true source of the light? Do you think it can be done, do you believe that the Spirit can empower us to reflect him in this way?
He can, He does and I believe He will continue to give us the strength to be grateful, thankful and content this month. The key is to "Hold firmly to the word of life", meaning - remember who God truly is, what he has done through Christ and who we are now because of that. The more time I spend enjoying God and thinking about how good his good news is, the less I am compelled to complain.
If you hear me grumbling, complaining or arguing this month,
please lovingly remind me of who Jesus is and all he has done.