Yesterday I wrote an Article about grumbling and disputing and what it reveals about our heart. When we grumble, we declare that we deserve better from the Lord, and when we dispute, we declare that we know better than the Lord. But there’s something else.
Look again at Philippians 2: “Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.” (Philippians 2:14-15, emphasis mine)
One Big Spotlight
I’ve said this a million times but I’m going to continue to say it: ministry, for the Christian, must not be reduced to organized gatherings, initiatives, and programs. Without a doubt, worship services, community outreach, and small groups are essential, but we can’t limit ministry to those few things.
Let me give you a word picture that plays off the metaphor in Philippians 2: if human beings are living in darkness and need to see the light (Matthew 4:16), one big spotlight won’t be as effective as a thousand points of light.
What’s the one big spotlight? It’s the organized, scheduled ministry of the church. Whenever there’s a grand opening at a car dealership or state fair or local store, you’ll often see bright lights that illuminate the building and attract people to the event.
This can be a great strategy. People walking by will be intrigued by the bright lights, the loud music, and the gathering of crowds and will discover what’s happening. But not everyone will see the one big spotlight - maybe they don’t live within eyesight; maybe their schedule doesn’t allow them to go; or maybe they’ve had a bad experience in the past and want to stay away.
It’s an imperfect illustration, but I’m trying to communicate that those types of lights are limited to a certain location at a certain time. Scheduled ministry, as beautiful and effective as it can be, must not make up your entire definition of what God is doing through His church.
A Thousand Points of Light
I remember the first time I was in Montana, known as Big Sky Country. My host took me outside at night and said two words: “Look up.” I was blown away. As far as I could see, in every direction, I couldn’t look at the sky without seeing the light.
That’s ministry! God, in His redemptive plan, scattered His children around the globe and throughout every period of history so that those living in darkness may see the light of His love and grace and surrender their hearts to the King.
You are one of His lights. In your everyday life, outside of organized church programs and ministries, God has called you to shine bright for the Gospel. With your neighbor, with your co-worker, with your friend, and with your family, you represent the God of Light.
Blameless. Innocent. Without Blemish.
Philippians 2:14-15 should motivate you to live with evangelistic intent outside of the scheduled ministry of your church. But there’s an important principle that’s inextricably tied into these verses: you can’t proclaim the Gospel of glorious grace and lavish love while you’re bitter, dissatisfied, and complaining.
When Paul says, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent…[and] without blemish…” he isn’t demanding that you live a perfect live; he knows that won’t happen. Rather, he’s encouraging you to find a deep and abiding joy in the person of Christ so that you can’t help but to tell others about it.
Peter says something similar: “always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.” (1 Peter 3:15, emphasis mine) You see, the best “defense” of the Gospel isn’t a long list of theological arguments and academic references, but your daily hope for life.
I would encourage you to re-evaluate your definition of ministry. One big spotlight is effective, but not as effective as a thousand points of light. Your friends, family members, co-workers, and neighbors should see you shining every day with the hope that is yours in Jesus.