By Jason Allison
And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. – Philippians 1:6 (NLT)
“Please be patient; God’s not finished with me yet.”
When I was a teenager, my youth leaders would use this quote to assure me that God was doing something special in me and wouldn’t stop until He was finished. They would remind me that God had a plan for my life and that He would never give up on me. And then they would quote Philippians 1:6.
As I read this verse one morning, I realized how often I had used it to encourage people that God continues to work in them even when it doesn’t feel like it. God is not in the business of giving up on people!
But then it hit me…what exactly is the “work” God is doing? And why is the “you” in this verse plural?
I had always assumed that the work being referenced was my salvation and that sanctification would continue in me. After all, I was special, and God had a plan for my life! But, when I studied the previous verse, I found that Paul wasn’t talking about my personal salvation, my sanctification, or even me at all!
Paul was telling the believers in Philippi that God would continue to work through them to spread the Good News. He said that they could count on the fact that God would not give up using them to preach the Gospel.
I’m both a little hurt and quite relieved as I think through this. I’m hurt because that line of coffee mugs and t-shirts I was hoping to sell telling folks that God isn’t going to give up on them (and then quote this verse) will never go to print. I’m also a little hurt that my idea of God having a personal plan for me might be overreaching.
But I’m relieved to be reminded that God has a plan for the Church. He has a message of hope to be shared with the world. And He will one day redeem His creation. His plan for me is that I participate with Him in sharing that message. I get to join Him in the process of seeing the Kingdom of God lived out in the here and now. God will not give up on His plan.
His plan for me is that I participate with Him in sharing that message. I get to join Him in the process of seeing the Kingdom of God lived out in the here and now. God will not give up on His plan.
I also find some relief in knowing that God isn’t finished, no matter how bleak things might look now. Even with all its issues, the Church will continue to be His vehicle for sharing the Good News of Jesus. Just as the early Church had problems (hence all of Paul’s letters) and God still used them to spread the faith, He will also continue to use the Church today to accomplish His work.
So, the real question we need to be asking ourselves isn’t about God’s plan for our individual lives; it’s about whether or not we’re willing to be God’s conduits.
This may mean sacrificing our own goals and dreams. It may mean realigning the objectives for our church and ministry with God’s plan for spreading the Good News. For me, it means making sure that I’m equipping individuals and churches to join God in His work. It means that I’m charged with encouraging those around me to participate in God’s mission of sharing about Jesus.
I still think God has a plan for my life.
That plan is to participate in spreading the Good News by sharing it personally as I am able and equipping churches to engage in God’s mission. Coming to grips with this simple mission means letting go of other dreams and aspirations. But it also means gaining freedom and joy in the clarity of understanding God’s work in, through, and with me.
One thing I know for sure—God isn’t going to stop working with and through His Church.
So I’m sticking with the Church. We might have issues, and we might still have room for improvement, but please be patient. God is not finished with us yet!
Email Jason at: Jason@95Network.org
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