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Advancing the Gospel in a COVID World | SKMB

Advancing the Gospel in a COVID World

When we read the letter of Philippians chapter one, we find out that Paul is “in chains for Christ” (1:13) – he is in jail because of his faith. In essence, Paul is facing some serious restrictions on his life and yet he wants us to know that “what has happened to him has actually served to advance the Gospel” (1:12). Paul is writing to the Philippians reminding them that time and time again God uses the trials in our life to advance his purposes. Paul is in chains, but that does not matter. What matters is that the Gospel is advancing.
Paul then writes how some are preaching Christ in a way that might “stir up trouble for me while I am in chains” (1:15ff). Not only is Paul in jail, but some people on the outside are actually trying to make life even harder on him. Paul’s response?  It doesn’t matter, “The important thing is … Christ is preached...And because of this I rejoice, Yes, and I will continue to rejoice” (1:18ff). Paul is in chains; some brothers are purposely trying to make life difficult, and yet, he rejoices. Why? Because the Gospel is advancing and Christ is preached.
Paul then debates with himself what the best outcome of his coming trial would be. In truth, the option that is “better by far” is to “depart (die) and be with Christ” (1:20ff). “But it is more necessary for you that I remain … for your progress and joy in the faith” (progress here is the same Greek word that was translated as advance in v. 12). Paul desires (v. 23) to depart and go to heaven – it is the better option by far. But that does not matter. What matters is that the Philippians have “progress and joy in their faith” (1:25).
As we go through COVID; as we collectively experience the struggles and trials of this season of life; as we face the restrictions we have on our lives (not only us but Christians and non-Christians alike), let us remember that those restrictions ultimately do not matter. What is most important is that the gospel advances, that Christ is preached and that others advance in their faith. I am convinced that God is at work through COVID, and if we actively join him in the advancement of his gospel purposes, we too will be able to rejoice through this trial.
 
Steven Schmidt
Member, Faith River Christian Fellowship

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