This past Sunday I preached “Gripes Go up” on Philippians 2:14-18 which speaks of doing all things without “grumbling or questioning” so that we would shine like lights in our “crooked and twisted” generation. So in other words, one way (not the only way) we witness is actually without using words at all: without griping, tantamount to a verbal expression of an inward disbelief in the gospel.
And we know what griping looks like, not so much because we see so many examples of this Philippian congregation griping, but because we see what griping looked like with Israel in their wilderness wanderings. Israel in other places in the N. T., become examples of how not to live, or rather more appropriately, how not to believe.
1 Corinthians 10:6 Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did.
So we are to take advantage and learn from others’ mistakes in OT church history, in this case (Phil 2:14) faithless griping, and instead find ourselves “holding fast to the word of life.”
But how do we look upon the failures of others without becoming prideful? Looking at mistakes in others and then becoming prideful go together like summertime and humidity.
Noisetrade has been one of my dear friends for getting music (I appreciate the convenience and legality of it, which in regard to the latter, Christians in my generation don’t care too much about anymore for some reason) by more obscure or up-and-coming indie/rock/folk singers. Joe Thorn sings about griping in “You’re not the only one.” Look how he responds to hearing his neighbors fighting.
I can’t believe how much they fuss, sometimes they sound just like us.
Thorn gives us a helpful hermeneutic of humility useful when reflecting back upon the faithless griping of ancient Israel. Sometimes they, and others who don’t believe the gospel, “sound just like us.” We can see our lack of faith in others’ lack of faith. We have to. That’s why the gospel is not a ladder that you need for a little while, but a beach for all ages you never outgrow. The gospel both humbles and grows us in grace at the same time. Thanks Joe for helping me see that. What would you expect from a guy whose most recent album is entitled Pimps and Preachers?