A Picture is Worth…
Pastor Mark turns our attention to the picture of the church that God has given us in the epistle to the Philippians. He reflects on the beauty of the church as God has revealed to us in His word, and encourages us to consider how we too, can bring God glory through His body, the church.
Pictures are powerful. It’s why we spend so much time trying to keep them around. I wonder if you’ve found a good way to organise your photos. I haven’t. The days of keeping physical photos in albums or shoeboxes are surely over, though somewhere we have boxes of them stored away. My brother told me I should take all my old photos and just scan them into the computer and discard them. I suppose he is right, but who's got time to do that?
The move to digital photos seemed great originally, I had some folders on my computer starting in the early 2000’s with a couple hundred photos in them. At some point though the smart phone came out and I got married and started having kids—the pictures went from hundreds to thousands and then 10’s of thousands. Add to that all of the video files and it started driving my computers to early graves.
Again my brother stepped in and told me I needed a massive 2 terabyte external hard drive to store it all but I also need the cloud to come to my aid. Just a few dollars a month! But then the number of devices in my home started multiplying like rabbits. Plus we have the lingering battle between Apple and Microsoft going on in my home! It’s a mess. Seriously, somebody please help.
The reason pictures are important to us is that they tie us powerfully to the past. You’ve probably had the experience of looking at an old photo and being transported to a different place and time. You see a snapshot of your school-age self and remember how we felt about our braces or our haircut or our clothes and we laugh and think—why did I care so much about those things? About how other people viewed me? Or we see a picture of ourselves with friends and we remember those relationships that helped shape and define us. Maybe we see a picture from the past and are reminded of how short life is and how important the decisions we make are.
Pictures are powerful—because a snapshot of the past can clarify our priorities in the present.
In the book of Philippians, Paul writes to a beloved church—one he had helped to plant. It is called the “epistle of joy” in part because of how thankful Paul is for this generally healthy church. The picture he paints in Philipians 1:1-11 is a wonderful one for churches like GBC to meditate on. This is a picture of who we want to be. Take a look at four beautiful aspects he describes:
1. Biblical order in church structure
"Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." (Phil 1:1-2)
This is our church structure in miniature: First the saints in Christ Jesus, regenerate believers are the congregation. Over them are overseers, the pastors and elders who lead them. They are served by deacons who meet the practical needs of the church.
Churches do well to remember that healthy structure is the scaffolding on which to build healthy ministry.
2. Partnering with others for gospel work
"I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now." (Phil 1:3-5)
The Philippians were contending for the gospel in their own city, and they were sending money to Paul and his missionary bands to share it in other places. What a powerful statement of priorities, putting their money where their heart is.
3. Bearing spiritual fruit
"And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ." (Phil 1:9-11a)
Paul prays for abounding love grounded in knowledge of God, manifesting itself in purity of life—which all adds up to a fruitful life. A spiritually fruitful life.
4. Bringing glory to God
“to the glory and praise of God.” (Phil 1:11b)
That is not a “throw away” line, that is the end and the purpose of the church. It is astounding to think that sinners like us could in any way bring glory to the infinite, almighty God. But a church that is ordered according to His word, living to make His gospel known, and bearing spiritual fruit in their life together has ever reason to expect that God would be honored by what they are doing.
And so it is with us, GBC. As we stare at this picture, we can be affected in powerful ways. This snapshot of the past can clarify our priorities in the present. You can get on our website to look at pictures from the history of our church that remind us of the faithful Christians and the things they did in the past. But the most important thing is to let God’s word define our perspective and priority for the future. What is your part to play in bringing God glory through His body the church?