When I was a missionary in the Philippines I learned to appreciate the jokes of my hosts and co-workers. I say “learned to” because their sense of humor is quite different from mine. Much of their humor is based on wordplay and therefore difficult for a non-Tagalog speaker to appreciate. For instance, one of their favorites was to ask, “Why is Kuya Kurt (meaning “Brother Kurt”) like water? Answer: “They are both too big.” Then they would double over, practically rolling on the ground with laughter.
For you non-Tagalog speakers, the word for water is “tubig”. For those of you who haven’t been to the Philippines, the average height of a man is 5’4” and a woman is 4’11”. My 6’4” frame certainly did seem “too big”. When we hosted basketball teams from the U.S. with guys much taller than me, they seemed like giants! Little children would often put their hands on top of their heads and measure themselves against these guys that made ME feel short!
Measuring ourselves is something we all do, especially those who are competitive by nature. But at the end of the day there is always someone who is faster, stronger, prettier, smarter, or more successful than we are. In Philippians 3, Paul describes the worldly success he had, but considered it garbage compared to knowing Christ. On Easter Sunday we celebrated the fact that we too can experience the power of Christ’s resurrection, both here on this earth and one day together in glory. Paul describes it as “straining forward to what lies ahead”.
Ah, but that’s where “measuring up” creeps in again. Comparing ourselves with one another in the church, either negatively or positively, leads to feelings of inferiority, OR pride and legalism. Paul made it clear in Philippians 3:12-16 that even he hadn’t “arrived”. We’ve ALL got a long way to go. The question is, “Are you moving forward?”
Speaking of moving forward, some of you noticed the beautiful flowers and campus improvements last Sunday. This Sunday you won’t miss the new planters we’ve installed in the patio area. These serve two functions. First, they are beautiful and colorful. Second, they are part of an ongoing effort for us to have a safe church facility. God is our protector (Ps. 91) so we trust Him AND we are wise when we gather many us together to worship the Lord. These large planters provide a barrier against anyone who would want to use a vehicle to harm people on our patio. If you have any further questions about our planters or campus safety, let me know and I’ll direct you to the right people.
P.S. I wish I had a nickel for every time I’ve mixed up “Philippians” and “Philippines”! I’d be at least a dollar richer today! J