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Category Archives: Philippians

Phillipians 4 – Surviving a Church Fight

Much of Phillipians calls people to unity, forgiveness, grace-filled living within a Christian community.  Suddenly in Paul’s final chapter of the book he names names.  Paul pleads with Euodia and Syntyche to be of one mind in the Lord.  This is a pretty cleaned up way of saying, “Will you two cut it out already before you split the church?”  Something has been going on here and it’s causing problems.  I have heard it speculated that they had picked one of those famous Jewish “my ancestors can beat up your ancestors” battles where two Jews contended as to whose genealogies were better.  It’s certainly possible, but we don’t really know.  What we do know is that something has gone wrong and it’s causing problems.  Paul is worried about what will happen if they can’t get past whatever they are hung up on.

 

So Paul gives them (and vicariously us) the Anybody’s Guide to Surviving a Church Fight.  

  1. Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again, REJOICE!  If you started singing when you read this line, you missed the emphasis Paul places on this instruction by blatantly repeating himself.  Rejoicing in God is essential to overcoming petty stuff.
  2. Be gentle.  Now I want to expound on this point a little bit.  Don’t be mean.  Don’t send emails saying things you would never say to a person’s face.  Don’t get loud.  Don’t start saying things about people to other people.  Be gentle.  If you ever find yourself in a fight, just imagine that there is a sleeping baby in the corner of the room you don’t want to wake up.  This should keep things civil.
  3. God’s peace will enter your heart.  Now let’s sing “I’ve got the wonderful peace of my blessed redeemer way down in the depths of my heart…where?  Down in the depths of my heart.”  Presumably, if God’s peace is in your heart, you will have peace in your life and in your relationships.  If you don’t, you might need to ask “Where?”
  4. Finally, think happy thoughts.  When we get hurt or get into disagreements, we go into a downward spiral of nasty thoughts and increasingly angry responses.  But if we instead dwell on things that are noble, pure, right, true, admirable, etc., then it will break the cycle of negativity.  We can gain some perspective and take the first steps towards peace and reconciliation.
  5. Put these things, and the lessons learned from spiritual mentors into practice.

There you go.  Now you can pull through and live lives worthy of the God of peace.  Now go forth and prosper.  Next week…Colossians.

 

 
 

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Philippians 3 – Follow Paul’s Example

Whoever Paul is addressing in Philippi is looking to their earthly accomplishments to demonstrate how great they are. Paul doesn’t seem to ever really talk about himself unless he just absolutely has to. When he does, he goes above and beyond in order to demonstrate how such action means nothing. Paul is making a point here that there is never room to brag about who you are. If Paul is speaking to the two women in chapter 4, there is a possibility that they are arguing over who has the better pedigree.

Paul then takes a shift in his speech, and provides us an example that cannot be missed. Whatever was good about his flesh is now considered a loss for the sake of Christ. In comparison to Christ, all is nothing, garbage. Paul is willing to give it all up for the sake of Christ and is calling his listeners to follow this example.

“I want to know Christ – Yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.” – Take a moment to dwell on this passage. When you look at the life that Paul lived, it is obvious that these words were written with conviction and were not simply idealized.

This reality is not something you ever fully obtain in this life but you always strain forward to know Christ more fully. God has called up heavenward in Christ Jesus and we should forget all that is behind so that we can fully move forward to what is ahead. This is how you know if you are mature or not. You are always striving to live up to what you have already attained. In what areas do you not see the glory of God evident in your life? Strive forward in those areas!

Follow Paul’s example here.

 
 

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Philippians 2 – The Vastness of Jesus’ Sacrifice

A few months ago, Ryan posted this as his “Hot Topic.”  When it comes to Philippians 2, I don’t think I could say it much better.  Without any further ado…

There once was a prince who grew up in the royal house. He had no idea what life was like outside the walls of the palace. As his father, the king, grew older he realized more and more that he would have to take on responsibility of ruling the kingdom. As this grew heavier and heavier on his mind he desired to know what life was like for the people he would rule.

In the early hours of the morning he snuck out of the palace without his royal guards. Disguised as a servant, he set out to be amongst the people to observe everyday life. How did the people speak of his father as king? What was it like to be at the bottom of society in this kingdom? His curiosity and questions got the best of him and he was off into the dark hours of the morning.

He found him a nice comfortable piece of ground to sit on near the market and sat back and watched at the city came to life. He was amazed as he watched the people. Their lives were simple. They had pride in their crafts and looked for ways to make their living throughout the day. Occasionally someone would take pity on the beggar that he presented himself to be and tossed a few coins at his feet.

Two men in the market began quarreling over a misunderstanding in their trade. The beggar-prince couldn’t help but step in to resolve the argument. Appalled that the beggar would interfere with a higher class of people they turned their focus to him, ridiculing him, and threw him to the ground. In the heat of the moment he threw off his beggars robe and revealed his true identity. Everyone in the market dropped to their knee and bowed before him. Having revealed his true identity he quickly made his way back to his palace where he had protection and power again. His life simply went back to how things used to be.

A year or so ago I was reflecting on the early Church hymn found in Philippians that is focused on who Jesus is and what He did. It is in this passage that I began to reflect on the sacrifice of Jesus.

“Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a human being,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.”
– Philippians 2:6-11

I’ve always had the assumption that when Jesus left heaven, and his place within God (whatever that means exactly I do not know), he simply went back to going about his existence as he had always before. It was in this passage that I began to rethink these assumptions.

Jesus, being God, did not consider using this to his advantage but made himself nothing. He became like one of us, took on the nature of servitude, and even submitted himself to death. This self-emptying seems to be the beginning of his sacrifice. In his death it was God that raised him and then glorified him to the highest place. Jesus was resurrected (1 Corinthians 15) and it is in this resurrected body that he remains at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 8:1; 12:2).

Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross is what conquers death and makes us right with God. He didn’t decide to just come down and “play man” for a bit and just go back to things as they used to be. When Jesus made the sacrifice to become a man he entered into this broken creation and submitted himself to God. It is God who then exalts him to the highest place and he forever sits next to the throne of God as the slaughtered lamb as described in Revelation. His sacrifice was eternal. He became like us so that we can become like him in his resurrection. This sacrifice caries a heavier weight for me that he gave up his privilege so that we could then be privileged. He became broken so that we can be made whole again. He is the first fruit of the resurrection and we should be thankful for his weighty sacrifice. Thanks be to God for loving us so much.

 
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Posted by on October 9, 2012 in Pauline Epistles, Philippians

 

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Philippians 1 – Citizenship and Unity

Imagine you’ve arrived at the church building for worship. You’ve been encouraged by the friends you have talked to. Worship has been uplifting. The preacher, a guest and long time friend of your congregations, gets up to preach and his message is very encouraging. He thanks God for you and the work that you as a congregation have joined him in to spread the gospel. His prayer for your congregation is that “your love my abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.”

You hear this prayer and you smile with a sense of pride about how fitting this is in your congregation. The love you feel in this group of Christians is powerful and motivating. He goes on to later talk about the attitude you have toward one another is found in Christ’s example (2:5-11). You think to yourself that you know some people who needed to hear that. He reminds you a few times throughout his talk that you are a citizen of heaven and warmth comes over you as you think of how great it is to be part of a family that is so vast.

He goes into a passionate plea nearing the end of his sermon, calling you to join him in his example, following him as a model, and not falling into the temptation to get wrapped up in earthly things as those do who are enemies of the cross of Christ (3:17-19). You are filled with passion and commitment and he reminds you again that you are citizens of heaven and reminds you of the hope that is in Christ, the glory of the resurrection! He then comes to his “Therefore” and you hear this great sermon call you to stand firm in this unity…then you hear the name of the person who has been talking bad about you. He just said that he pleads with her. You smile for a moment only to then hear that he also pleads with you. All of these calls for unity and attitude of Christ have built up to address the problem you’ve been having with your Sister in Christ because you are not united together in the mind of Christ and he even calls on the elders to join in helping bring unity between the two of you (4:1-3).

You’ve been called out and now have to face the division you have caused in the body that you have failed to take seriously. He reminds you how you are to view one another (4:8) and finishes up his sermon with the doxology, “To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever (4:20).” You are now faced with a hard decision. The entire congregation now is supposed to say, “Amen” which means, “I agree.” Everyone is looking at you and this other person whom he has pleaded with to see if you will say it or not.

This is what I see going on in the letter to the church in Philippi. As we read through this letter together, listen for the challenging call Paul gives these two women, Euodia and Syntyche. So often we hear God’s Word spoken or we read it ourselves and we not our heads in agreement. How differently would we react to the Word of God if we were confronted with the attitude of Christ and called to be changed by it?

I’m challenged with Paul’s attitude in this first chapter. He rejoices because of his chains that he has the opportunity to share the gospel of Christ. He is not a prisoner to these guards in his mind. They are chained to him and therefore will hear God’s Word spoken. There are some Brothers who speak badly of him when presenting the Word of God but his attitude is, “The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.”

The last section of this chapter is very powerful. “Whatever happens, as citizens of heaven live in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” What citizenship does your life exemplify? Which citizenship is more important to you? Strive to live a life worthy of the cross of Christ.

 
 

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