Do all things without murmuring and arguing, so that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, in which you shine like stars in the world. It is by your holding fast to the word of life that I can boast on the day of Christ that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. – Philippians 2:14-16
Sunday morning I enjoyed the inspirational 9:00 worship service at Wake Forest Presbyterian, taught my discipleship class, then jumped in my little VW TDi to zoom-zoom 194 miles for 3:00pm worship at Chalice Christian Church in Virginia Beach.
The occasion was the installation of my friend Greg Ott as pastor. It was a signal moment in a sometimes difficult journey in ministry, and I wanted to be there, to simply stand with him in encouragement.
I write a lot in this space about relationships; especially faith-based community, and spiritual friendships among men. We live in a culture where men are routinely discouraged from being honest about who they are – from embracing their feelings, from admitting vulnerability, from giving emotion any kind of a toe-hold, from loving one-another in the way Christ modeled love, from stepping outside of the carefully crafted veneer of “man-up,” machismo, and defensive sexism – and Greg has been part of a group of guys I first met in Virginia well before we moved to Raleigh, who have encouraged me in my efforts to change the parameters of the conversation, inviting men into a discipleship where Jesus – not the politics of chauvinism – is our teacher and guide.
At the reception I read a letter from our mutual friend Ray Gryder, and then had two very short thoughts to share from my own heart – one to the group, and the other just to Greg. Here they are:
- “Paraphrasing my favorite scripture from Philippians 2, it’s my prayer that, as pastor, you shine like a star in the universe – pointing the way to Jesus – as you hold out the word of life.”
- And then, “I feel a spirit of hope and promise in this place. You already know how I feel about this: So long as even a small group of people believe with passion – there’s not a church in this world that does not have the potential to grow, and to become renewed with life and purpose.”
So this is our calling, as Twenty-first Century Christian men:
- To follow Jesus as faithful disciples;
- To develop authentic relationships with other believers;
- And to shine like stars in the universe, as we hold out the word of life.
Happy Monday, friends, let’s live like we mean it! – DEREK