Drop sense of competition at church doors

Farmville Enterprise ~ September 6, 2017

On Sunday morning when I grabbed my Bible it fell open to the end of Ephesians and the beginning of Philippians. My eyes were drawn to the portion where Paul wrote, “If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” (Philippians 2:1-7)

Immediately I was struck about how this attitude of servanthood, to be displayed in every facet of a Christian’s life, would change our congregations and quickly jotted down some notes.

Inside the walls of the church there is no room for competition. It should be a safe place where people understand that they are being cheered on and that others sincerely want the best for them and their families. We should be unconcerned about appearing better than anyone but committed to making those around us feel welcome and comfortable, especially at church. Our own interests must go on the back burner.

Outside the walls of our individual congregations we must recognize that other churches share our goals. We exist to proclaim in word and deed the gospel of Jesus Christ. As members of the same team we should be glad when strong ministries are developed in Farmville and beyond.

On the way to worship I told my husband that if the minister preached on this passage in Philippians, this week’s column topic would be clear. It turned out that the church’s pastors were doing a series through the book of 1 Corinthians called “Messy Church.”

The first words out of the pastor’s mouth warned about the dangers of competition in the church. He said that we should not “grade” each other or elevate certain positions within the congregation. Although society pushes us to climb to the top, as followers of Christ we are to be servants. Competition only breeds division. We each have spiritual gifts and are assigned our unique tasks. He suggested that we “stay in our own lane” and concentrate on the jobs God has given us to do.  Finally, he advised us to be thankful for co-workers.

Certainly in Farmville we have fellow workers for whom to be thankful and a general spirit of cooperation. May we continue to serve in the way that Christ modeled for us.

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