Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained. – Philippians 3:15-16
We are now officially at the halfway mark of 2018. In light of that fact, I would like to reprint some suggested prayer points that I published in a Jym Shorts article in early January of this year as a challenge to our church family to consider praying on occasion throughout 2018. I am praying through this list occasionally during my own devotions. Would you consider adding these to your own prayers in 2018, if you have not done so already?
- That the Lord will bring people under the influence of the church’s ministry who need to hear the gospel (Acts 18:9-10).
- That we will teach and preach “the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15). That we will not fear for our reputation nor our advantage in the community, but that we will proclaim, “Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2).
- That we will be a unified body of believers. That gossip and slander will be rejected by those who hear it and that we will love and offer grace to one another in truly biblical proportions (John 13:34-35).
- That we will be a sending church, with a heart for gospel missions that is unquenchable (Matt. 28:19-20).
- That we will love and care for our neighbors as we love ourselves (Matt. 22:39).
We are a community church at LifePoint, which means we have many people from diverse theological and denominational backgrounds. That reality makes it vital that we learn how to get along with each other—that we practice Christian unity in a biblical fashion, not giving up on important doctrines and Christian distinctives, but instead doing the hard work of determining, to the best of our ability, the difference between essential and peripheral doctrines. That we think hard on these matters and offer grace and Christian fellowship to one another when it comes to peripheral or secondary matters while bearing down and remaining faithful in areas of primary or essential matters.
John Newton was a great British pastor who started his adult life as a slave ship sailor and then captain and, in his own words as “a godless blasphemer.” He ended his life fighting to end slavery and as a softhearted Christ-follower (the author of the famous hymn “Amazing Grace”). Newton said this to a friend who told him about a fellow believer with whom he had serious theological differences: “Though you may find it necessary to oppose his errors, view him personally as a kindred soul, with whom you are happy to be in Christ forever.” Such is the manner in which we must consider our own brothers and sisters in Christ with whom we disagree, when those disagreements are on disputable or secondary issues related to the faith (see Romans 14:1-15:7 and Phil. 3:12-16). One of the best ways for us to accomplish this admittedly difficult task of loving one another in spite of our differences is to pray together. Not necessarily in the same room, but over the same matters.
Because it is worth repeating, I will also reprint my prayer for our church family that the apostle Paul prayed for his friends in Philippi. And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you will be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God (Phil. 1:9-11).
Praying for our love and unity together with you…
Grace and peace,