Mat’s August Letter

Are you content? And if so what are you content with? In Philippians 4:11Open Link in New Window Paul writes that he ‘has learnt to be content with whatever he has’. He is speaking here of material things like food and money, because he knows he can do all things through him who strengthens him (v14). I find this challenging because I’m someone who often compares what I have with those around me (and often want more). I guess that that is a disease of our materialistic age. Paul offers a challenge to that. Of course there are those who are in need and we are called to serve them but contentment is different, it is an attitude of heart. Are we content and thankful with all that God has given us? I’m trying to learn to be content.

But Paul is not content with everything; earlier in chapter 3:12 he writes, ‘Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.’ Alongside his contentment with material things Paul has a holy discontent with his knowledge of Jesus. He continues to ‘strain forward’ in order to live for Jesus. He calls the church to do the same, to live not as ‘those whose minds are set on earthly things’ but rather as citizens of heaven (v17-21). We may like to reflect on that personally but what does it mean for us as a church?

In many senses St Matthew’s is a good church. We are growing, people say we are welcoming, our worship and teaching are generally good and lots of people are involved in different ways. However there is a danger that we can become content and want to ‘stay here’. Scripture and church history teach us that when the people of God stand still the wheels tend to come off. Just read the story of the Exodus. We are not a people called to stay, but a people called to ‘Go!’ towards all that God is calling us to.

In order to become more who Jesus longs for us to be, in order to live for Jesus, we need to continue to be transformed by the work of the Spirit both personally and corporately. That means seeking change, inspired by holy discontent for ourselves and the communities we serve. Whilst this can be hard work we know that we can do all things through God who leads and strengthens us.

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