Reflections – 2016.01

Every Day is Labor Day

January has come again and with it a new year.  So here we are in 2016 and it seems good to think about why we are here.  Paul was reflecting on this and he said the following to the church in Philippi:

“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.  If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me.  Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell.  I am hard pressed between the two.  My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.  But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.”

Paul’s “new year’s resolution” was to live for Christ among His people and to engage in fruitful labor, necessary labor, on behalf of the Church.  Yes, it would be far better to be with Christ, to see Him face to face, but Paul knows that he must remain and minister among the people of God.  Paul goes on to say that his ministry desire was for the people to grow, to make progress, and to know joy in the faith, in being followers of Jesus.

I share these desires as your pastor.  I want us all to make progress, to grow deeper in our relationship with Christ, to know the joy of being a Christian.  I trust that the Lord will make my labors among you fruitful in the year ahead and am confident that He is the One who has placed me among you to work.

But I think it is not too much of a stretch to apply what Paul is saying to each of us, not just pastors.  For each of you, to live is Christ and to die is gain.  For each of you, remaining here means that the Lord has fruitful labor, necessary labor for you to do.  Be encouraged by this as you consider what lies ahead.  You are not purposeless accidents.  You are not in control of your own destiny either.  You are followers of Jesus, who has strategically placed you in this place at this time, to minister to particular people in this congregation, as well as the people in your home, in your work place, in your neighborhood and in your community. He has placed you here at Living Hope for worship, to learn how to love one another, and to be equipped for His good works that He has planned for you in the world.  You are a part of something really big in 2016.  The Kingdom of God is growing and we have labor to do.  May the Lord find us faithful in the various tasks He has given us and may He bless us as we follow Him.