A few weeks ago, I heard one of the best messages in my life in a church service. It was given by John Snelgrove, one of the founding pastors of The Vine Church in Hong Kong.
When Pastor John opened with the statement, “One of the greatest dangers today in the Kingdom of God is jealousy”, I knew it’s gonna be a great message. This is a statement that resonates with me deeply and yet is often neglected.
He shared briefly of a recent experience he had with a local church leader throwing shades to another church by saying, “Yeah, their church is growing, but _____________.” – “Get off your ‘buts’!” said Pastor John.
He said it well. I have heard too many “but __(insert complaints/ mockery/ distrust/ resentment______.” in my life. Lord have mercy, I am sure I have done the same. As someone who likes to follow ministry leaders on social media (to learn not just their teaching but how they interact with one another), I have also been shocked by the lack of grace many times.
Where is the art of speaking well of one another?
“Honour one another.” Is this not what the Lord has taught us?
Drawing from Matthew 20 and Phillip Yancey’s well-known book What’s So Amazing About Grace, John reminded us that, when we are jealous about others, we are actually jealous about God’s generosity.
It got even better. He said, listen to this when you are young – don’t get caught up in the world’s ranking. The way the world ranks men is not how God’s Kingdom works.
After the message, a number of people wanted to receive the Lord into their lives. What followed was a beautiful communion, in which John said, “You know, many church service often let the pastors, deacons, and elders take the bread and wine first. But today, we will do something different. We will serve these new ones first.”
So he charged those sitting around the new believers to serve the bread and wine to these ones first. Meanwhile, he also asked the Philippino sisters, who laboured six days a week as maids, to partake of the bread and wine before the rest of us did.
This kind of serving expresses the beauty of Matthew 20:16 “So the last will be first, and the first last.” Please don’t tell me “but…this is not what it means!” by getting too literal and intellectual. This kind of honouring one another IS indeed the way of Christ.