That was the title of a message from Philippians 1:12-18 that I taught a little over a month ago. One thing I love about plunging the depths of the Scriptures and only covering a couple verses at a time is that you get to go deeper and see new things you’ve never seen.
It’s like scuba diving versus snorkeling. They’re both cool, don’t get me wrong, but when you merely skim the surface with a tube sticking out of your mouth and some funny-looking goggles, you miss a lot. Thankfully, since you don’t even know what you missed out on, you still walk away from snorkeling happy. However, I wonder how many scuba divers go back to snorkeling. It must be challenging after knowing what is really out there in the depths of the ocean.
Same with Scripture. I’ve settled for “snorkel preaching” where we skim the surface. I enjoyed it. But I think I enjoyed it because I’d never heard any “scuba preaching”. I had never plunged the depths of the Scripture. Eventually, I did, though, and I can’t go back to snorkeling.
Here’s where I’m going with all of this…
As I plunged into the depths of Philippians 1:12-18, I ran across one word in verse 12 that rocked my world (I think you’ll be able to tell which word):
Philippians 1:12-13 – But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ;
Furtherance, in the Greek, is a super cool word. In Greek, it means “to cut before” and it refers to a group of men who went in front of an army cutting through vines and branches in an impenetrable forest. As these men cut back the trees, the army could advance into areas that they could have never gone to before – uncharted territory. How cool that Paul could have that outlook on his prison chains. Instead of viewing them as something that held him down, he viewed them as something that broke down barriers and enabled further ministry! Before prison, Paul might have seen Roman soldiers on the streets, but he would have never had years of uninterrupted ministry with them like he did now. A Roman soldier’s shift was usually 6 or 8 hours long and Paul was chained to one at all times – 24/7 (actually, I think the soldiers were chained to Paul). Paul would have cycled through 3 or 4 Roman soldiers every day. You know they didn’t stand a chance at not hearing the Gospel! That week, I challenged us all to take that view into our daily lives. However, as the teacher, I often get to learn these lessons even more hands-on than the rest. That’s where my bus driver job comes in.
Thankfully, driving a bus is nothing like prison. No chains, no sentence, no starvation, no Roman soldiers following me to the bathroom. I really enjoy my job and I’m very thankful for it. However, after thinking through this word, I realized that I had an opportunity for the FURTHERANCE of the Gospel right at my fingertips: my school bus! You see, as a trainee, I have to either ride along with someone or they have to ride with me. In the 6 hours a day that I’m in a bus with someone, inevitably, there’s plenty of time to talk. I always pray for the person that I know I’ll be riding with and ask God to give me an open door to share my faith with them. With that mindset, it’s hard NOT to find an opportunity! Sometimes, they bring it up, or sometimes, through conversation, I use something they said to bring up their beliefs and the Gospel. Whichever way it happens, I recently realized, God is writing His own version of Philippians 1 through my life:
Philippians 1:12-13 [Kevin Miller Version (KMV)] – But I want you to know, brethren, that the job that I have has actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, so that it has become evident to the whole Montgomery County Transportation Department, and to all the rest, that my bus driving is in Christ…
That’s right – the whole transportation department…at least that’s my goal. I’ve only been driving for a month or so now, but I’m already known as “the preacher.” I try to give everyone I ride with a little dose of some Gospel medicine. I’ve already gotten to pray for reconciliation with people, give Biblical counsel, marriage counsel, talk about the struggles of cancer and how God is in control, talk about the coming of Christ and what I believe happens when this life is over, and much more. Super cool opportunities.
One of the ladies from work has started coming to the church and has been inviting others. I actually walked in after lunch the other day as she had a group of bus drivers around her, telling them about Awaken!
One lady rode with me, and since she had the map, she told me which turns to take. On our way back, we got a chance to talk about her beliefs on the afterlife. After our route, I told her, “Thanks for steering me in the right direction (referring to the map),” and she said, “No, thank you for steering me in the right direction!” I walked out of there smiling, realizing she had taken to heart the things I said.
Every day is a chance for the furtherance of the Gospel, so what if we started viewing our circumstances through that lens?
What if we viewed our circumstances, detours, and jobs, as opportunities for the furtherance of the Gospel?
What if every day was used to take the Gospel into uncharted territory?
If we lived this way, it would revolutionize our life, our view on the Gospel, and change more lives than we ever imagined!