This morning I read Paul's words in Philippians :
Some proclaim Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from goodwill. These proclaim Christ out of love, knowing that I have been put here (in prison) for the defense of the Gospel; the others proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but intending to increase my suffering in my imprisonment. What does it matter? Just this, that Christ is proclaimed in every way, whether out of false motives or true; and in that I rejoice. (Phil. 1:15-18, NRSV)
This doesn't work for me, honestly. I know it's the Bible and it's Paul, etc. but this passage doesn't fit in my framework.
I want to declare right and wrong. Black and white.
I want to set up the fences of interpretation and "forget" to put in a gate.
I consider myself a pretty easily dialogue partner with different viewpoints, but this passage caught me off guard this morning. It all comes down to priorities. Paul is sitting in a Roman jail, teaching a community of people in a city populated mostly by retired Roman military officers who are loyal to Caesar above anything else. He knows that with him being in prison, there are people who are angling for the position of "spokesman for the Gospel" and they do it because of the attention and press that it draws. And, basically, because they believe it honks Paul off.
Things haven't changed - in the midst of a culture that doesn't have fond feelings for Jesus, there are people who preach Him for the press rather than for the transformational power. And, they do it to get a rise out of their opponents.
Apparently, Paul would be okay with it - for the most part, knowing that Paul has called out heresy before - but if it's the same Gospel with the wrong motives he says "Let it slide. Jesus is getting out there, whether it's for the right reasons or not."
Perhaps this is a new spiritual discipline for me - will I stand in the way of the Gospel message radiating throughout the world just because I think that someone is coming at it from a self-interested angle?
Who do I think I am, anyway? What does this say about my motives?
Father, let me prioritize my thinking so that you are the final judge of motives because I will muck it up every time. Help me discipline my mind to think like your Son and your servant Paul.