Living in a time when we are all looking out for ourselves and just trying to get through tough times tends to turn people inward and we become self focused. But where has that gotten you so far?
Today’s sermon was based on Philippians 2:1-11. Paul’s letter to the church of Philippi shows a different example of how to live based on the life of Jesus Christ. (You can find the sermon here if you’d prefer to hear it first.)
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.Philippians 2:1-11
There is so much to unpack here. A sermon with so much content to help inform us how we can attain joy even in this time of pandemic! So, let’s delve into it…
Paul wants the church to act against internal conflicts in the body of Christ. You know, conflicts of self in the mind. Paul has been teaching them about the Gospel of Jesus. He found his joy in the Gospel and that’s what he wants for them. But joy is something you choose and it doesn’t come from thinking you’re better than everyone else.
We share the Gospel by living our lives in the manner that Jesus himself lived his life. We do that by living our lives with love for others and not being concerned about garnering accolades for ourselves. (v. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit…) If we stay focused on the Gospel, we won’t do things for our own gain, but have the welfare of others at heart.
Conceit is thinking too highly of one’s self. Being more preoccupied with ourselves than concerned about others causes us to lose our focus of the Gospel. Ambition is fine, it’s selfish ambition that causes us trouble.
(v. 3 …but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.) Being humble was a weakness to the Greeks, and it’s still kind of like that today. But the person who claims to be humble…is not. Makes me think of the times when we point out something we did that was good. You know, “See what I did! I did that!” Instead, we should be pointing out the goodness of others. Show them to be more significant than ourselves.
Our pastor, Jon Porter, wants us to picture for a moment, a world where Christians are focused on the Gospel. A world where they put others needs ahead of their own. This may be a little scary, because if I take care of others, who’s going to take care of me, right? But Jon says, “if I put you above me and you consider me above you, then a marvelous thing happens: a community where everyone is looked up to, and no one is looked down on.”
Can you picture a world like that where we are more concerned about others than we are about our own interests? We can have our own interests, but also be concerned about others. This reminds me of some of the books we studied in one of my college classes of utopian societies. Maybe a glimpse of what heaven will be like, where we all have the humility found in Christ.
If we think that we can’t be like Jesus, we are forgetting that we are created in his image. But, it is a choice to have the mind of Christ, to be in Christ. If we don’t believe this, will we create our own personal Jesus in our image? We can know we’re doing this if we make it so that we believe God hates the same people we hate. We’re making God into our own image.
Jesus poured himself out. He could have claimed his rightful place as the ruler of the world, but he came to the world as a baby born to a virgin. He came to serve us, giving up the powers that were ultimately his. He could have claimed himself as an equal to God, but where would that have left us? He gave everything up for us.
So, the hope of the world lies in Christ, who has given us the task of sharing the Gospel with the world so that all can be saved. Focus on Christ because nothing matters except what is eternal. That’s where our prize is…the goal: to hear “Well done, good and faithful servant.” There will be no mention of the big house you have, your position in life here on earth. Money will not give you power in heaven. If that’s where you put your heart, you’re fooling yourself. It means nothing in the end. So, pour out yourself to others. Share Jesus’ love for others, counting no one as less than you. Let Jesus fill your life to the point of overflowing so you can share with others. Let others see the hope that you’ve found in Christ.
Worship the Father. Love others. Empty yourself the way Jesus did. Live a life of service. It doesn’t matter what others here on earth think. We are called to humbly serve others.
I hope you’ve found something in this message that can help you understand what Jesus did for you and me. If we’d all just live and love and give like Jesus did, everything would be fixed!