Have you ever had one of those Sunday mornings where you said to yourself, “I’m just not up to going to church today?”
I’ve had a few myself, including last Sunday. I just didn’t feel well. As it turns out, had I not gone, it might have been one of the biggest mistakes of my entire Christian life.
Last Sunday at Calvary Assembly in Orlando, Florida, Pastor Ed Garvin preached what I believed to be a message EVERY follower of Jesus Christ needs to hear. I certainly did.
Here is an excerpt from Pastor Garvin’s sermon. He is speaking of Philippians 2:1, which says, “If there is any encouragement in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any compassion and mercy, then fulfill my joy and be like-minded, having the same love, being in unity with one mind.”
Pastor Garvin said, “Here’s where I sense the Holy Spirit speaking through Paul: If Jesus has done anything in your life, if you have connected with Him on any level, let this attitude, this mindset, let this disposition be evidenced in you. If you want to know how to make relationships work, I’m convinced you are going to find it in Philippians 2 because Paul describes to us the way we are to connect with others in looking at the way Jesus connects with us.”
Wow, is that powerful or what? Is that not convicting?
Many people—including “so-called Christians”—live only to make a good impression on others or to please themselves. However, selfish ambition or conceit brings discord. In Philippians, Paul stressed spiritual unity, asking those in the church to love one another and to be in spirit and purpose. When we work together, caring for the problems of others as if they were our problems, we demonstrate Christ’s example of putting others first and we experience unity.
Shouldn’t unity in the body of Christ be one of our ultimate goals? Shouldn’t we care about others and esteem others better than ourselves, as it says in Philippians 2:3?
It’s no wonder that a great deal of the world sees the church as hypocritical. Many in the church are concerned only about their own selfish ambitions or self interests. I should know—I was one of those for many, many years. Whether it was trying to be right in arguing theology or trying to ensure I received my spiritual food and blessings, it was all about me.
No more, especially after Pastor Garvin’s message. More than ever before, I want people to see Jesus in me. As Casting Crowns so eloquently put it, “Let my life song sing to you.”
I challenge you to listen to Pastor’s Garvin’s sermon, in three parts. Here is part 1, part 2 and part 3.
If this sermon doesn’t sear your heart, I’m not sure anything ever will.
And as I always like to say, “There is that.”
Shawn A. Akers is the online managing editor at Charisma Media. He is a published poet and published a story about Dale Earnhardt in NASCAR Chicken Soup For the Soul. You can read his blog here.