(Hi ladies! This is Kelly. We are so sorry for the lateness of this post! This last week’s meeting was a First Thursday, where we heard from a fabulous speaker about conflict resolution and how to listen as well as be heard. Unfortunately, there is no transcript for us to post. The post you are reading today was actually from October 24th.)
To get some context for our verses today I’m going to read all of 1:27-2:18. While I’m reading we’re going to play a little Sesame Street game called “which one of these things is not like the others”. There is a section of the text that is not like its surrounding context. While I’m reading, see if you can figure out which it is and what makes it different. Here’s a hint: some of your Bible translations may actually have this section offset from the rest. I’m going to read from the ESV.
Who’s got it? Which verses are different? Some of your translations may have this section offset because some scholars think the Greek structure here suggests it might be a poem. (2:5-11)
What makes this section different from the surrounding context? (1:27-2:4 and 2:12-18 are Practical/2:5-11 is Theological)
How do we know they’re linked? Am I just making that up? Is Paul merely taking a break to praise Jesus for what He did? (v. 5 Have this mind…/v. 12 therefore)
Our Pastor Michael has told us that often in the new testament, Paul links practical living to deep theology. Here he is linking attitudes and relational conduct to a foundational aspect of the Gospel – the one we just sang about – Jesus’s incarnation and death on the cross. Jesus becoming servant-like and dying an excruciating death on the cross is now our example for Christian living. So we see here that the Gospel isn’t just a way to get saved, but a pattern for daily life. We aren’t saved merely for hell-fire insurance and then we can do whatever we want. No, we are saved to live based on the example we have in Jesus.
What is that gospel living? What does this passage practically say to us that living out the example of Christ looks like? Let’s make a list:
- one mind
- united by love
- looking out for others interests
- no selfish ambition/rivalry
- no conceit
- consider others better than yourself
I hope you all got to consider these in more detail in your discussion groups.
A question I have, though, is who are these relational commands given to? (You, yourselves, etc) Is it to spouses? Families? Relationship with unbelievers? (the Church)
These are wonderful fruits of a Christian life – based on the example of Jesus. And these things would be appropriate in any relationship. But I wanted to highlight the fact that these are commands are specifically to be exercised within the Christian church. Remember this letter is written to, 1:1, all the saints in Philippi along with the elders and deacons. Even though Philippi, like Portland, is a city, we couldn’t translate verse 1 “to all the saints in christ Jesus who are at Portland. That would include dozens if not hundreds of churches. I’m sure the sheer population of the city of Portland and number of churches would boggle Paul’s mind. At the time of Paul’s writing, there was only one church in Phillipi. If you were a Christian, no church shopping needed – you had one choice. Translated to our context, the beginning of 1:1 might read, “To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Hinson, with the elders and deacons…”. When Paul says for them to be standing firm in one spirit, for them to be striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, for them have the same love, for them to have this mind among themselves which is theirs in Christ Jesus, he is talking to a local church. These saints know one another, warts and all.
Notice Paul doesn’t give any instructions on facilities or programs or responsibilities of the paid staff. Paul says that these things are the fundamentals of the Christian church. This list may seem obvious, but it’s not. Many churches have gotten busy about many things but their saints along with their elders and deacons neglected the things that Paul says really matter.
And I don’t have to look any further than my own life to see why. These things are hard to do consistently, they are costly to our natural inclinations. In the way it was so costly for Jesus to have his flesh nailed to the cross on our behalf, we must put to death our flesh on a daily basis in order to do these things – the flesh that wants ourselves to be noticed, to put our needs/wants to the forefront, to look out for “number one”, to tear others down in our thoughts or speech. Putting to death these things will be far more costly than any Bible study we ever teach or attend, any VBS we ever volunteer for, any short or long-term mission we ever take.
If you’re a parent, you already know something of what this is like. Though you love your kids, sometimes being a parent really stinks because it’s so costly – to your wallet, to your comfort, to your freedom. It should be the same way with the church. I’m not saying you should love the church to the neglect of your family, but there should be some of that costly love quality there if we are humbly putting our brothers and sisters ahead of ourselves. If sometimes being a member of your church really stinks because it requires inconvenience and putting selfishness to death, then you’re on the right track. On the other hand, if you mainly go to your church for what you get out of it, then it seems you would be out of accord with this list.
I’m so thankful for Hinson Baptist church. We are not perfect, but I see many members doing these fundamentals on a regular basis, especially our elders. We should encourage them and pray for them and for ourselves to continue in this good work that God has begun.
I’m going to read a quote where theologian Don Carson fleshes out what it means to live as a servant, as Christ has done for us. This passage was very convicting to me. Consider, is this how you view yourself in relation to the brothers and sisters at your church? (pg. 45 quote) So different from the self-esteem culture we live in! One thing to note: These verses encourage us to lay down our lives and serve one another with joy. However, we should not use these verses to excuse abuse or manipulation. If you are being abuse or if for any reason you are not finding joy in having this attitude, please speak to one of our pastors or elders. They would be happy to help you.
Time to put on you thinking caps again, it’s group discussion time: In what situations are we tempted to not have this mind about ourselves in our church families (Day 2 application question)?
- Do we have this mind when we’re offended by someone?
- Do we invest in and encourage the ministry of others, or do we only care about our own ministries?
- Are we even involved in relationships at all in our church? It’s hard to look out for the interests of a person we don’t even know.
Small group leaders, let’s have this be our point of prayer today. Let’s pray for a relationship or situation in your church family where you are having a difficult time having the mind of Christ. Pray together for repentance and/or encouragement to do so.
In closing, I have to say that I know unbelievers who exhibit some of these qualities. They don’t display them in a church or from of a love for Christ, but they have humility in their own families and loving relationships – after all, we are all made in God’s image. So it doesn’t seem that remarkable if a Christian here or there might also possess some of these things. But can you imagine the questions unbelieving friends and family would have about us, the gospel-sharing opportunities we would have if all 540 of us members of Hinson Baptist church really lived this way together – considering ourselves as nobodies, servants of one another, having the same mind, the same love, lacking conceit or rivalry, but putting one another’s interests ahead of our own. Wouldn’t that be a stark contrast to a selfish world, a world of wars and divided nations, where our own congress is gridlocked and almost dysfunctional, where many families and relationships around us are broken. Wouldn’t that truly make us lights in the world (2:15)?
We’re going to close now with a hymn reminding us to have the attitude of Christ. (May the Mind of Christ)