Acts 8:5 Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah to them. 6 The crowds paid attention with one mind to what Philip said, as they heard and saw the signs he was performing. 7 For unclean spirits, crying out with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed, and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed. 8 So there was great joy in that city. Acts 8:26 An angel of the Lord spoke to Philip: “Get up and go south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This is the desert road.)
By every numerical standard Philip’s trading the success he was experiencing in a city for a desert road walk was completely illogical. Yet Philip did not hesitate, because Philip knew obedience is more important than logic. Philip knew that Holy Spirit was the one working in Samaria–not him. Philip was not ego bound to have the best report back to the apostles. Philip was a bond servant of the Lord, and when the Lord said, “Go,” he went.
I believe there are going to be times in all of our lives when the Lord is going to say, “Go, stop, wait, give, release, fight, ignore,” Everything will scream illogical. (See the blog “Perspective” about Abraham sacrificing Isaac.) But Jesus reminds us that those who want to save their lives must lose them. God does not measure success using human standards.
1 Corinthians 1:10 Now I urge you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, that there be no divisions among you, and that you be united with the same understanding and the same conviction. 11 For it has been reported to me about you, my brothers, by members of Chloe’s household, that there is rivalry among you. 12 What I am saying is this: Each of you says, “I’m with Paul,” or “I’m with Apollos,” or “I’m with Cephas,” or “I’m with Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was it Paul who was crucified for you? Or were you baptized in Paul’s name? … 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to evangelize—not with clever words, so that the cross of Christ will not be emptied of its effect.
The way of the Christian is not a competition. We are not competing against other Christians. We are each to follow God’s plan for our lives. I don’t for a minute think that when the Early Christians got to heaven that Stephen got a trophy for first to die and he showed it to John and said, “I would bet you wish you had tried harder.” I don’t think Nathaniel went and whined about the fact that Peter also got the better events in which to preach. I think Jesus shakes His head in disappointment when we say “Such and such pastor is moving on up; they are now at First Baptist who knows where”. To Jesus every congregation is precious.
Paul told us that we are a body, so we are to work as a body. The ear is not to covet the eye. We are not to say, “Well if I had that ministry’s budget, I could do what they are doing. Taking up your cross daily means- taking up the cross specially designed for you everyday. It means keeping your eyes on Jesus and not looking to see what everyone else’s cross looks like.
1 Corinthians 3:5 What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? They are servants through whom you believed, and each has the role the Lord has given. 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7 So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 8 Now the one planting and the one watering are one in purpose, and each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. 9 For we are God’s coworkers. You are God’s field, God’s building. 10 According to God’s grace that was given to me, I have laid a foundation as a skilled master builder, and another builds on it. But each one must be careful how he builds on it. 11 For no one can lay any other foundation than what has been laid down. That foundation is Jesus Christ.
Knowing people, Paul said it again, “Get rid of your ego.” It is all totally completely about Jesus. We get no credit. We deserve no credit. One of the reasons the Pharisees wrote so many laws was they wanted to be sure that they could win in the law-keeping competition. Somehow, people that recognize they are saved by grace engage in a “works for the Lord” competition. Yeah, she is a good teacher, but how many mission trips has she been on? Yes, they really love God, but how many children did they adopt? Unfortunately, some people know that they can’t compete with star-Christian, so they drop out.
Repeat after me: “God made me completely unique. God loves me as much as He loves anyone else. God’s love is not based on my performance. God created me to give Him glory. Each of us gives Him glory when we die to ourselves and choose to obey Him completely. God has a purpose for my life. I will discover that purpose if each day I surrender everything and everyone over to Him and choose to listen to His voice.
Acts 20:36 After he said this, he knelt down and prayed with all of them. 37 There was a great deal of weeping by everyone. They embraced Paul and kissed him,
Ironically, it was those verses, that lead me to all the previous words above. You see, I am the one saying good bye to my Paul. It gives me comfort to know that weeping and kissing when you say bye is biblical. Watching someone else take up their cross and follow Jesus, can be very painful. People around you will say that is illogical. People will say the person is a hero. What people say doesn’t matter. All that matters is what Jesus says. Today He says, “Go this way, Christian.”