I’m missing something…
In Philippians 1:15-18 Paul, from prison, writes this:
Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.
Yes, and I will rejoice,
I know that Paul is not rejoicing in those that are preaching some form of a false gospel that are merely throwing around the name of Jesus. They are probably preaching the true gospel of Jesus but they seem to be personally at odds with Paul. My guess is that they get the gospel but they are a little weak on the periphery elements of the good news of Jesus.
I can’t seem to.
Even though he is referring to those with a different problem I find myself identifying with those C.S. Lewis laments in this quote:
But you cannot go on `explaining away' for ever: you will find that you have explained explanation itself away. You cannot go on `seeing through things for ever. The whole point of seeing through something is to see something through it. It is good that the window should be transparent, because the street or garden beyond it is opaque. How if you saw through the garden too? It is no use trying to `see through' first principles. If you see through everything, then everything is transparent. But a wholly transparent world is an invisible world. To `see through' all things is the same as not to see. -C.S. Lewis from The Abolition of Man
I think Lewis is really only saying what the Preacher said centuries ago when he said, “Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh”. (Ecclesiastes 12:12) There is a type of studying and learning where all you do is “see through things”. I feel like I have been guilty of that.
I hear somebody preach and I “see through” certain elements of what they say. I see a brother or sister in Christ spill out their heart and I “see through it” and analyze it according to a strict theological grid. It’s like I say to myself, “Yeah, they are preaching Jesus but I can tell their eschatology is messed up.”
I’m not like Paul. Paul was able to “see through things” so as to “see something through it”. And that is why he was able to “see through” the preaching of those that were seemingly his enemies. He can see through it and see that the gospel is still being proclaimed and the sovereign Lord of the universe is being glorified even with them having shoddy motives. What a robust view of the power of God that Paul must have had.
I have to confess I am so weary of myself in this regard. Ecclesiastes is true, all of my study (because I have often done it so wrongly) has given me a weariness of the flesh. One of my prayers for the New Year is that the Lord would rescue me from “seeing through things” and help me “see through things to see something through it”. Indeed to see Someone through it. If I don’t see Jesus through my labor of study then I’d be just as well served digging holes in my yard looking for buried pirate treasure.