By James Metsger
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. (Philippians 1:3-5)
When Toy Story was released for public consumption, I was immediately hooked. I wasn’t exactly eating Lunchables at the time and longing for recess, but I also wasn’t pulling muscles while bending over to tie my shoes. I remember Woody greeting all who would listen with, “Howdy pardner!” Until Woody came along, I didn’t know anyone who regularly called people “partner.” But as time has gone on, I’ve become a fan.
Partner language didn’t originate with Woody. Paul was using it before cartoons were cool. He didn’t say it with a tip of his cowboy hat. He wasn’t looking for a dance partner or searching for a partner in crime. He was giving thanks to God for gospel partnerships.
Gospel partners share in gospel work.
Partners are not passive observers, but active participants and Paul saw the Philippians as active partners with him in spreading the gospel. If you’re a follower of Christ, you’ve partnered with the God of the universe to advance the gospel to the ends of the earth. You’re an integral part of God’s beautiful plan for the world. Do you believe that’s true?
For the longest time I essentially thought the church functioned like a professional sports team. A handful of unusually and spectacularly gifted people formed a team. Then they invite a bunch of people to come watch them play. “You should come hear our worship.” “You should come hear our pastor.” “You should see how much fun our kids have on Sunday morning.” The few played while the many watched. That’s not how God set it up. Church was never meant to be a spectator sport. It wasn’t designed for you to have a good experience. It was designed to be the people of God, “God’s fellow workers” (1 Corinthians 3:9), partnering in the Holy Spirit to build one another up in Christ for a saving ministry in the world.
You partner with God when you use the gifts God has given you to build up your church body. You partner with God when you love your neighbor. You partner with God when you share the good news of the gospel and when you participate in the work of God here on earth. You partner with God when you live out the truth of the gospel in word and deed.
So, add another name to the list: servant, saint, and partner. Howdy!
In what ways am I partnering with God to advance the gospel?
What next step is God calling me to take right now?
How does gospel partnership change the way I view the church?