A lot has transpired for my family over the last month. We have finally made the move from Columbia, Maryland to Chillicothe, Missouri so that I can serve full-time as a minister with the Chillicothe Church of Christ. Since moving 1,000 miles across country is time consuming and stressful, I haven’t had time to write much on this blog. However, now that I’m done with the move, I plan on returning to more regular writing.
Though I have been swith the congregation since last October, traveling back and forth between Maryland and Missouri, last Sunday was my first sermon as a Chillicothe resident. I have begun a summer preaching series based on the book of Philippians called Living Christ. Now that I’m here full-time, I wanted to begin by talking about what I believe matters the most and that is Jesus Christ. Paul makes this clear in his letter to the Philippians as he seeks to guide this community of believers, who are facing opposition and struggling with some conflict, to continue in way of Jesus Christ. In this way, Paul is confident that the work God has begun in the Philippians will continue until the day of Jesus Christ (1:6).
This is how I feel about the Chillicothe Church of Christ. God has already been at work with this church, something he began long before I was even born. My work as a minister of the gospel is to help this church continue in the way of Jesus so that the work which God has already begun will continue until the day of Jesus Christ. In many ways, this is an invitation from God to continue seeing what he is doing in Christ and join in that work.
But with that invitation comes a challenge too. When Paul wrote to the Philippians, he was in prison and possibly facing execution for preaching Jesus. Yet he rejoiced because his suffering had encouraged confidence in other believers to preach the gospel (1:14). Even in acknowledging that some were preaching for false motives, he is fine with this since they are preaching Christ (1:19). That might seem strange but for Paul, the one thing that matters is the proclamation of Jesus Christ. So in what is kind of a mantra for Paul, he says in Philippians 1:21, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
What matters most for any church, including the Philippians and the Chillicothe Church of Christ, is Jesus Christ. In particular, what matters is the proclamation of Jesus in word and deed. Everything we do, every decision we make and ever endeavor we pursue, must be shaped and guided by the proclamation of Jesus Christ. This also is a challenge to embody the gospel of Jesus Christ as our way of life because without such embodiment, our proclamation in word just becomes meaningless chatter to the surrounding society.
Pray for the Chillicothe Church of Christ and pray for every other church in the community as well as your own church and the other churches in your community. Pray that we may all prioritize Jesus Christ. Whatever problems, struggles, and questions there are facing churches in America, the way forward is by refocusing on what matters most: Jesus Christ.
“I want to know Christ — yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.”
– The Apostle Paul, Philippians 3:10-11