This was the message I preached at San Pedro CRC- last 2 PM pre-Christmas fellowship service -December 22, 2013.
Fallen Condition /Redemptive Focus
- So Christians in leadership will not be proud in their status experience or knowledge in treating their fellow brethren or those outside the church
- So ordinary Christians will not grumble nor complain as they do their ministries under the church leadership.
- For both to focus their life on emptying oneself in serving others-whether in the church or outside –just like Jesus did –and await their rewards from Him in the end.
These are the before Christmas rush-rush days –where people will buy gifts, prepare foods, activities, and make decorations and presentations. If not for the fact that some of our ‘kababayans’ were hit by Typhoon Yolanda –maybe we will be splurging all our money on gifts and food and gadgets. Now we have to rethink how we celebrate Christmas –which I think is for the better.
Sometimes –we think we are all okay…under a veneer of something of a face that looks happy- but underneath –something is eating at us…after we became Christian or religious –we forgot- we thought we can become righteous and holy and good in the eyes of this world without referring to what God has done and is doing to us –in Jesus.
It is significant that in Christianity- that our ethics- or what we do is defined and motivated by our doctrines or teachings- meaning who God is and what He have done- and this more pronounced here Philippians 2.
It is what Jesus is and what He has done to us- Father , Son And Holy Spirit –that Apostle Paul order us with 2 basic commands: One for the tyrant- the leadership who knows everything and does not listen to anyone- and the rebel who silently cut the church from below by their complaints and grumbling. Each is a upside mirror of each other.
1. Since …In Christ, Same Mind v. 1-2
2. Do Nothing Selfish v. 3-5
3. Form of God …Form of a servant v. 6-11
4. Work out your Salvation v.12-13
5. Do Not Grumble v.14-18
Let us read:
- I. Since …In Christ, Same Mind v. 1-2
2 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.
Paul’s command to be of one mind or same mind –which is the Mind of Christ – stems from what God has done and is doing for Christians:
- Union with Jesus,
- His comfort from His Love
- Participation in the Spirit
- Tenderness and Compassion
In simplicity –it means that Jesus loves us passionately, dearly , emotionally. If He can hug us- he will..so that we will not forget it.
This same mind means –having the same love, spirit and mind for others especially those in the household of faith. For we are all the same under Christ.
Remember the example of Jesus in washing of the feet- if our leader-our CEO –our ambition to become – took the lowliest place- what should be ambition the? It should be to be like him-a feet washer too.
- II. Do Nothing Selfish v. 3-5
3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mind-set as Christ Jesus:
And yet –it is true and oh so common that in the church that people are with ambition to be known for their power, authority, money, prestige or knowledge. They even brag that they can fast for so long –or memorize so many or kings and queens bow before for their blessings. In our age some brag that storms, hurricane or a rains will stand still or move by their order.
Tyrants- dictators -they will have a tendency not to listen to others –and they love to listen to the sound of their voices- and therefore they think others are much lesser than they are –they don’t need their suggestions nor opinion-they can run the church on their own. They also think that their concerns or needs is not important. It is their grand vision of things that is important. A cathedral or a large funding or many attendees.
Herod the Great is the NT example of a tyrant. Who funded his Temple and Palace projects with slave labour and who killed the babies below 2 years old so that he can kill the baby Messiah.
Two words- value and interest –and one word- Others – that is what is important to the Lord.
- III. Form of God …Form of a servant v. 6-11
6 Who, being in very nature[a] God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
Besides the Logos passage in the Gospel of John –this is one of the longest creedal text of the early church- and the one filled with so many profound insights in the nature of condescension or humiliation or emptying of the Christ.
Let us be clear –this is not about the following:
- That Jesus is just a man- He is a man but more than that
- That Jesus is an angel – for angels are not in a ‘form of God’
- That Jesus is just a demi-god- since there is no category in a Hebrew mind that a being can be worship –who is not God and just a creature. This is not Greek, Roman or Norse mythology.
I need to discuss these Greek words since it is very important and we cannot escape it.
Jesus came in :
µορφῇ θεοῦ- morphe theos
µορφὴν δούλου- morphe doulos
µορθη has to be understood in the light of its dual use here – Christ was in the form of God, but took the form of a servant.
Gordon Fee thinks that the word means more than appearance, “µορφηwas precisely the right word for this dual usage, to characterize both the reality (his being God) and the metaphor (his taking on the role of a slave), since it denotes ‘form’ or ‘shape’ not in terms of the external features by which something is recognized but those characteristics and qualities that are essential to it. Hence it means that which truly characterizes a given reality.”
We may bit understand this through the comparison to a comics superhero: Superman- who Kal El and who is Clark Kent. All the same person and yet seen by people differently … He is not pretending to be Superman nor as Clark Kent- the two are the same.
ἁρπαγµος, ου m something to grasp after; something to hold on to
In Moule’s terms, equality with God means not ‘grasping’ but ‘giving away.'” -The noun is a synonym of its cognate ἁρπαγµα(‘booty’). The meaning would be ‘a matter to be seized upon’ in the sense of ‘taking advantage of it.’
In Superman –this General Zod grasping at power instead of renouncing its use and privilege.
Yoder (Politics of Jesus) thinks that Paul suggests a contrast with the “Godlikeness promised by the serpent to Adam in the garden, which would have consisted in unchecked dominion over creation. Or perhaps it refers as well to the kind of Godlikeness claimed by Caesar.” Ridderbos (Paul) also detects a contrast with Adam.
“1) Superman’s creator, Jerry Siegel, acknowledges in an unpublished memoir that he was strongly influenced by anti-Semitism he saw and felt, and that Samson was a role model for Superman.
“Jerry also says he wrote about the world he grew up in: a Cleveland (Ohio) neighborhood that was 70 percent Jewish, where theaters and newspapers were in Yiddish as well as in English, and there were two dozen Orthodox synagogues to choose from but only one option, Weinberger’s, to buy your favorite pulp fiction.
“It was a place and time where weaklings — especially Jewish ones, who were more likely to get sand kicked in their faces by the bully down the block if not Adolf Hitler — dreamed that someday the world would see them for the superheroes they really were.
Fee argues that the meaning is not that Christ abandoned equality with God but that he did not consider equality with God to be exemplified in ‘grasping’ but in ’emptying.’ “In the cross God’s true character, his outlandish, lavish expression of love, was fully manifested.” The question at issue is ‘What does it mean to be like God?’
It is for God to be seen as powerless so that He can love us and rescue us- a world changing truth. It is in weakness that we will find strength.
“He laid aside the form of God, the splendour of divinity.” so Christ did not empty himself of anything; he simply ’emptied himself,’ poured himself out. This is metaphor, pure and simple.”
He wills not to use his divinity for his advantage. It is there-but he did not use it.
The meaning of the verb elsewhere is ‘to become powerless’ or ‘to be emptied of significance
It is like having a machine gun –and when bullied- he did not use it- and lay it down. Wow!
“The concern is with divine selflessness: God is not an acquisitive being, grasping and seizing, but self-giving for the sake of others.”
µορφὴν δούλου- morphe doulos
Eadie understands this service to be service to God. In becoming man, the Son took on the role of Servant to the Father’s will. He took on the part of obedient man which Adam had abandoned. However, the context would seem to demand also the sense that he became a servant of all – a model for our service of one another.
Like how Adam should have been- a servant –Jesus became one. That us how man should be-a servant of the Father.
ὁµοιωµατι ἀνθρωπων- omiomati anthropos
“He came in the ‘likeness’ of human beings, because on the one hand he was fully identified with us, and because on the other hand in becoming human he was not ‘human only. He was God living out a truly human life, all of which is safeguarded by the expression.” Fee
σχήµατι ὡς ἄνθρωπος- schemati os anthropos
σχηµα, ατος n outward form, present form, form, likeness εὑρεθεὶς
“He showed Himself possessed of a true body and a rational soul – that body no phantom or disguise, but an organism like that of all men born of woman, and within it a soul that grew in wisdom as His body grew in stature, being subject to human emotions, and possessed of the usual powers of thought and will.
He was ‘found in fashion as a man’ by those who lived with Him, who saw Him in all aspects, and in every variety of attitude and circumstance; – His mother and kinsmen; His fellow-villagers and friends; His disciples and followers; His enemies and executioners.” Eadie
It is in this form that he obeyed… to the death and death on humiliating crucifixion.
The reward for this obedience is that His Father granted the title Lord to the Human Person Jesus Christ.
Jesus left the position of power and became a servant to His Father and to us- He valued us more than himself –and suffered so that he protect our eternal interest.
- IV. Work out your Salvation v.12-13
12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.
It is surprising that the exhortation not to grumble or complain is preface by another doctrine- eternal security and the perseverance of the saints i.e. Paul is encouraging Philippian believers that they should living as if Paul is there-or better God is there –which truer- Coram Deo – which will be discussed in chapter 3 too. Salvation doesn’t’ stop in justification but continue on sanctification. Christian living being done in front of the Living God.
To work out is dig silver from the mines – that is –the wealth is already there-but it needs to be brought to light. We are now new creation – but we need to cooperate with the Holy Spirit in this (though in His Providence and overall ruling-we will still hit our mark in the end).
Though we work- in truth it is God who works and will so that in the end we will fulfil His good purpose. Nothing is left to chance-like in chapter 1
6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
We should not be idle but persevering nor a worrier in our eternal security- we are children of God- and secured in that relationship
- V. Do Not Grumble v.14-18
14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.”[c] Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. 17 But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. 18 So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.
Rebels- sometimes when we are not in position of prominence –or responsibility – we tend to envy those above us-those who requested our support –our cooperation. We make it harder for them to lead… to inspire us or to do the common goals set by them or by us together. We rebel- and then we grumble and argue against them. Every action –has our brilliant idea- our criticism –our inputs.
There is a time for planning and evaluation – for hearing us – but most often we just have to follow and our job, our responsibilities, our obedience, our cooperation. But it is a common tendency to rebel against legitimate authorities- we think we know better-even in the most ordinary activities or decisions.
Obedience is what Jesus did. And if we are Christians- without Christ- I am nothing– then obedience should be also our distinctive feature- our hallmark. In the quest for the triumph of the Father’s good purpose- we should lose ourselves in obedience- 1: 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
Someone can sing Christian songs, read bible devotions, own a bible- but it is wholehearted trust and obedience to his Lord and Saviour is what differentiates the real from those faking it.
If we don’t grumble or complain against His will –we will be like… like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life.Something to behold and dream about and emulate or imitate. And what is our guide in this life? It is the Word of God…if anything will deviate from it- we will not follow. If anything will devalue the Living Word- we will stand against. But if in His word –he says that we obey- then we willingly submit to follow.
The generation of Jeus and Paul is filled with rebels and wars – and so the term“ warped and crooked generation.”[c] .
The Zealots like Barabbas is a NT example of rebels-who want to extract justice from the Romans even if their methods were violent and wrong. During the AD 70 Fall of Jerusalem- they acted like terrorist –killing the priest and Sadducees and common people so that they can further their cause.
We don’t take the sword to rebel nor lead revolution unless it is our magistrate or legal government who will call us to do so-in defence and for righteous causes.
This is what will make Paul to be joyful even when he feels his death or execution near:
And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labour in vain. 17 But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. 18 So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.
Two things –do not be a tyrant –self-important person
And a rebel –who makes the lives of your leaders harder
In all of this –It is our Lord Jesus Christ –our model and forerunner.