We recently went over Christ’s letter to the church in Philadelphia (Rev 3:7-13) in YG. In it Christ has great encouragement to His church. First, He commends them for faithfully pursuing the doors He has put before them. Going through open doors is bible speak for taking opportunities to preach the gospel and witness to others. Second, He commends the church for keeping His word and not denying His name amidst persecution. Despite being attacked, they remained faithful and obedient to God.
The amazing thing about this church is that they were small, insignificant, and weak. Christ actually tells them they have “little power.” Yet, despite weakness and persecution, they are faithful to God’s plan and name. The example of Philadelphia and Christ’s encouragement is useful for us today as we seek to faithfully teach and model Christ to our children amidst all our situations.
Therefore, a few applications stem from this letter. I hope these challenge and encourage us to work and rely more faithfully on God. First, God calls us to preach the gospel and witness to our children. Second, we succeed in this mission by remaining faithful to God. Third, we are tempted to believe we are too weak. Fourth, we are tempted to believe we are strong.
God Calls Us to Preach and Witness
Just as God opened the door of preaching and witnessing for the church in Philly, He does the same for us. This is nothing new to us, but it is a good reminder that the main goal of all our time with our children is to teach biblical truth and model Christlikeness. These are the two columns of discipleship and therefore they are the two columns of our family ministry.
We Succeed in God’s Mission by Faith
So how do we do well at teaching and modeling? By remaining faithful to God. In Romans 12-15 we see that because of the gospel we may actually be faithful to God. Then we see remaining faithful to God is both an intellectual endeavor (we renew our mind in his truth) and a behavioral endeavor (we live in humble love to him and others). Teaching truth and modeling Christ stems from personally remaining faithful to God. We devote ourselves to know more about Him and sacrifice more for Him and His kingdom. When we personally remain faithful to God our family ministry and relationships follow suit.
God Desires Faithfulness Over Weakness
Yet we are tempted to think that we are too weak to be successful. For whatever reason – “I don’t have enough time or energy”, “I am not hip enough”, “I don’t know enough about the Bible”, “What about my past?”, and so on – we may come to believe that we are unable or underequipped. God has a fantastic response to this; in 2 Cor 12:9-11 Paul says that in his weakness God’s strength is perfected, so much so that he rejoices in his weakness because he knows God works through it. In faith we must humbly recognize our weakness and rely on God’s strength. Relying on God’s strength starts by relying on His Word, prayer, and confession.
God Desires Faithfulness Over Strength
Also yet, we are tempted to think we are strong enough to accomplish preaching and witnessing on our own. We may never say this out loud, but your heart may rely on your passion, money, lingo, time, knowledge, coolness, etc. more than it relies on God. In these moments what we believe is that we can accomplish God’s mission without God – this is pride. In 1 Cor 15:10 Paul states that even though he works harder than all the other apostles, he and they are successful in ministry because of, and only because of, God’s grace. In pride we forsake relying on God’s grace. Being faithful to God’s grace in ministry starts with relying on His Word, confession, and submission.
Let us be encouraged that faithful to God leads to success in God’s plan. Let us be warned that pride stands in the way of faith.