Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain. (Philippians 2:14-16)
Complaining And Arguing
There has been a lot to complain about in the past two years. The virus pandemic has changed the landscape of the world in terms of economics, political rhetoric, health concerns, and, sadly, the character of the local church. Churches were slammed in 2020 with a reality that no one could have foreseen or planned. With limited knowledge of the power of the virus, churches reeled under the scrutiny of the government with mandates, laws, regulations, and health guidelines. Whether all of these things were necessary will never be known. Slowly, the church began to gain its footing again and focus on the mission of the Lord Jesus Christ. As a new year dawns upon the horizon, hearts look on how to regain the local church’s work to teach the gospel and encourage the saved.
The year 2022 can be a year of incredible change. Persecution and hard times have always benefited the church making it stronger than in times of prosperity. When Saul of Tarsus sought to destroy the church, the people of God went everywhere preaching the gospel. The effort to destroy the church only made it stronger. Later, when Paul was confined to a Roman jail, he pens a letter to the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi and exhorts them to rejoice and have joy living in Christ. He encourages them to have a like mind together, be of the same love and not do things through selfish ambition. The example of Jesus is put forth to show a pattern of faith. Paul wants the saints to grow in the work of the Lord as a united church.
Salvation is an individual effort by the grace of God. Paul tells the Philippians saints to consider the fear of the Lord and, with deep reverence serve Him. The church in Philippi is blessed when God is working with them but there is a way the work of the church can be hindered. When murmuring, disputing, complaining, and arguing find their way into the church, the work can be hindered. Paul instructs the Christians not to complain about the hardships. Complaining about the persecution does not help build the work up and edify the saints. Murmuring about how the church deals with difficulty is a sinful attitude that tears down rather than builds up.
The world is a crooked and perverse place with people who do not believe in God and do not serve the Lord Jesus Christ. In the midst of trial, the church of Christ must shine forth as a united front against the wiles of the devil seeking to destroy the influence for good and the propagation of the gospel. When saints murmur against the work of the church, they present the church in a bad light. Complaining about leadership decisions is sinful. The nation of Israel continually complained and murmured against Moses and the will of God for forty years and perished because of it. God was not well pleased with the complainers. He remains adamant against the spirit of murmuring.
Nothing could have prepared the church for the pandemic but it happened. Decisions were made in the best effort to fulfill the work of the Lord. What is lost in the translation of the COVID virus is the Lord’s work must continue. No virus will change the will of God. The church cannot adapt to government regulations because of a virus. The assembly on the first day of the week was not an option that can be easily defeated by a virus or the ease of being a couch Christian watching on TV. Discerning the body of Christ is a collective part of the assembled worship. The COVID virus did not rewrite Paul’s letter to Corinth. Complainers are not the workers. They are part of the problem. The Lord said, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing.”