Hey Buddy! That’s My Message!

The gospel has found its way into a lot of places besides the pulpit.  It can be found in the lyrics of secular songs, movies, plays, and places we’ve never even thought about.

But, of course, unless the gospel is presented in the proper way, it’s bad, right?  I mean – we don’t expect the gospel, which is uttered in a secular movie, to have any goodness to it, right?  In fact, we consider it sacrilegious, a scam, something that is without any merit.

But, if we rollback the time-clock a few thousand years, we find that Paul had found a different way of looking at this.  During his time, the gospel was also being put out, and not always by the right people, or by those who had good intentions.  In fact, many of them wanted to do Paul harm by their distortions of the gospel.  In Philippians chapter 1 here’s what he had to say about this:

“It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill.  The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel.  The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains.   But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.”

Paul recognized that not all preaching of the gospel came from good sources.  Some even intended to cause him problems by their preaching of the gospel.  We don’t know exactly what kind of ‘harm’ was intended, but Paul described it as selfish ambition, which tells us a little bit.  We might even put it in modern terms and say that someone stole Paul’s sermon notes or outlines, and used them as their own.  Not to build Paul up, but to take him down, to displace him, to make him unimportant.  After all, Paul is in prison, in chains, for his preaching of the gospel, but these are free to do whatever they want.  Paul has every right to be angry, to be upset, to seek retribution.

But, Paul doesn’t do that.  He turns it around by saying, “What does it matter?”.  He focuses on what is most important, which is, the gospel of Christ is being preached.  Who cares who gets the credit?  Who cares if it’s my sermon notes they are using?  Who cares if they are taking my message as their own?

But, what does it take to be able to do this?  Every person has feelings, and it is certain Paul had his.  It doesn’t always feel good if we spend the time and effort to prepare a message (or posting) only to have someone else claim it as their own.  So, what does it take to assume the posture Paul showed in this first chapter of Philippians?  First of all, it requires we remove ourselves from the primary focus point.  In other words, it’s not about us, is it?  It’s about the gospel of Christ.  Once that is done, it becomes clear the important thing is that the gospel of Christ be put forth.  It is not important the source be glorified in the process.  But, how will the proper recognition be placed?  That is God’s job, and He will reward the proper ones, when the time is right.

So, next time you see a funeral service in a TV show or movie, and hear some of the gospel being put forth, you should know that whether in pretense or sincerity, the gospel is being preached.  And, if by chance, someone should use your sermon outline or message notes, or online video, and call it their own, the gospel is still being preached, and that is the important thing.

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