Don’t you love a good competition? When your adrenaline is rushing, you gain a renewed sense of purpose. With this purpose, we determine to do whatever it takes to remove the competitor from our field of view. In a race, you trip them up. In a sporting event, you trash-talk. In a fight, you intimidate. In the church, it can get much uglier.
In a course that I took for my undergrad, we were taught about developing a nonprofit organization (NPO) – the legal channels, the mounds of paperwork, the strategies, the challenges, etc. Jim Strietelmeier of our partner-church, Neighborhood Fellowship, spoke during one of the class periods and he shared many great lessons.
Someone asked how he handles other ministries in the area that compete over the same mission. After all, there can’t be two churches a block away from one another who seek to draw in and evangelize the area prostitutes, right?
Jim’s answer was unexpected and incredibly refreshing. He said that we must not be distracted by the building up of our own kingdoms. Imagine the two different scenarios:
- A competitive church down the street attempts to steal those you seek to minister to, diminishing your church’s “kingdom”
- Brothers and sisters down the road assist you in ministering to the lost, building up Christ’s Kingdom
Which would you prefer to be the case? Biblically speaking, which of the two is actually the case? God-willing, your answer would be option 2 for both questions. When the focus is on God’s work in the community and in our lives, we no longer worry about our financial stability, our church’s “numbers”, or folks stepping in on our “territory”. Instead, we expend every ounce of energy seeking to glorify our Father, along with any who would join us.
Though used in reference to another’s “kingdom”, Jesus said in Matthew 12:25, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand.” So, are we dividing His kingdom or standing united with the Holy Spirit’s vigor as our glue? Rather than focusing on your church, your denomination, your chosen strategies to evangelize, disciple, or otherwise shine the light of Jesus Christ in your community, let’s recognize our place in the Body of Christ.
In 2 Timothy 4:7-8, Paul writes ”I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.
Let’s pursue God’s will in the world with those who share a common mission. Though we may have differences in opinion on how to get from the starting line to the finish, we serve Christ, the true Head Who deserves all the glory, honor, and our final allegiance as we seek to follow Him alone. Rather than compete, let’s run the race alongside all those who also “have loved His appearing.”
Love you all,
Young Adult Minister – Evan McNeff