In the last blog post, we saw how on his tour to Philippi, Paul met a group of people and started a church. The letter to the Philippians is marked by Paul’s love for this church. He mentions it on various occasions, like in chapter 4:1 “Therefore, my beloved, and longed-for brethren, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, beloved.” His words reflect the love of someone who has committed his life to preaching the gospel and to discipling the resulting community of believers. He is so dedicated to them that he sees this mission as the only reason he should continue to be alive on Earth (1:24).
Have a look at Philippians chapter 1. In verses 3-8, Paul describes his care for the Church in Philippi:
- He remembers them regularly, prays for them and thanks God for them.
- They are partners together in spreading the gospel: the church joins Paul in his mission.
- He cares about the completion of God’s work in them.
- They share in the same grace of God - not only in the work and the suffering, but also in the blessings that come from knowing God.
- Paul longs for them with a great affection.
You might be thinking, “I don’t know how to do that. I don’t know how to help others grow in their walk with Jesus. I’m not a pastor, I’m a musician.” But in verse 6, Paul makes an important point: bringing about spiritual growth and maturity in others’ lives is not his job, but the work of God. God is at work in people around us, and He will continue until that work is complete. In verses 9-11, Paul describes the kind of spiritual growth he prays to see in his audience:
- It is focused on love: that our love might grow more, both for God and for one another.
- Christian love is not just a feeling; it involves the mind and requires wisdom and knowledge. To love is to want what is good for another, so we need knowledge and discernment, to know what is excellent, sincere and righteous.
- This is Jesus’ work; He makes it happen.
Missionary artists can’t afford to be inward looking, solely concerned with their art or with appreciation from their audience. As followers of Jesus, we are called to more. While the effect of the gospel in our lives initially seems to be more personal (we are saved, we get to know God, and we grow in character), it must then go on to demonstrate a life of sacrificial love and selfless concern for those around us. A sign of Christian maturity is a life dedicated to others.
When we perform, do we spend time with our audience, or do we go straight backstage to chill? Do we stay in the small talk, or do we discuss the things that really matter and offer to pray for people? And I’m talking here about non-Christian audiences, outside the church context. That’s where discipleship begins! People want to hear and understand, and they are drawn by the spiritual depth of a true follower of Jesus. They are thirsty for truth and often very open to be prayed for. God may want to heal people physically and spiritually at your show or exhibition, and He may be starting that same process of growth in them that Paul describes in Philippians.
If Paul had a band, his focus would be on seeing his audience meet Jesus and grow in their faith. All this happens by the power of God at work in us. My prayer is that you would see this power at work in your art and music, outside the church walls, where people need to hear.