If someone wrote today what Paul wrote while in prison, he or she just might be accused of heresy. “It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former peach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.” (Philippians 1:15-18)
I’m not sure we’re up to believing what Paul wrote. Because how much time do we spend arguing (“fighting” is a better word) about whether someone or the other preaches properly? Most Christian ministers I know anything about preach Christ — as Lord and Savior. It’s the 10,000 other things about Christianity we fight about. Intricacies of Church doctrine. Interpretations of one passage of scripture or another. Angels on the head of a pin.
Paul said that even if Christ is preached out of selfish ambition, with insincerity, or to stir up trouble, it doesn’t matter. Paul rejoiced as long as Christ was preached! Well, some contend, preaching Christ has to include a lot more than that. I mean, with all the books of the New Testament or just the gospels, there has to be more. That’s not what Paul said.
Many sermons have been preached to prove that Paul meant more than he said. Sometimes, I fear we have turned the simplicity of the gospel on its head. Preaching Christ isn’t enough. It’s much more complex than that.
“The important thing,” regardless of anything else, is that “Christ is preached.” End of sermon.