Summary: In this final look at living together in Christ Paul mentions two concerns that we need to have in perspective for living together.
A FINAL LOOK AT LIVING TOGETHER IN CHRIST
A. Viet Nam veteran who had just returned from Viet Nam and called his mother.
The phone rang in the home of high society Boston. On the other end of the line was a son who had just returned from Vietnam and was calling from California. His folks were part of the pseudo-cocktail circuit, wife-swapping party kind. The young man said to his mother, "I just called, Mother to tell you that I wanted to bring a buddy home with me." His mother said, "Sure, bring him along for a few days." "But Mother, there is something that you need to know about this guy. One leg is gone, one arm’s been shot off, one eye’s out, and his face is quite disfigured. Is it alright if I bring him home, Mama?”
His mother said, "Bring him home for just a few days." The son said, "You don’t understand,, Mother, I want to bring him home to live with us. The mother began to make all kinds of excuses about embarrassment and what people might think … and the phone clicked.
A few hours later the police called from California to Boston. The mother answered the phone. The police sergeant at the other end said, “We just found a young man with one arm, one leg, one eye, and a mangled face who has just killed himself with a shot in the head. The identification papers on the body say he is your son.”
B. As Paul gives his closing greetings and thoughts in Philippians he wants us to have our perspective right.
1. This is an expansion of the normal closing to ancient letters, which was Paul’s practice.
2. In this closing Paul summarizes the two main themes of the book.
3. There is a personal thrust to the closing, as noted by the use of “I” and “you.”
C. The perspective of these last three verses of Philippians is an important perspective to have.
1. Paul has said in numerous ways through Philippians that unity, living together in Christ, is critical to the life of the church.
2. I have seen this over the years by observing that most church fights come down to people’s opinions, and not doctrine. When people’s eternal salvation is at stake, that is just downright stupid.
3. I listened to a sermon tape this week by Larry Osborne, pastor of North Coast Church in Vista, CA. My sister-in-law attends there, and I have visited there once. It is a fast developing church north of San Diego with a diversified ministry. Osborne told about some information he had heard about some churches in their community, only to reveal that all the statements were made about North Coast Church. The statements were misrepresentations of the facts about the church, and were likely made by Christians who disagreed with their style of ministry.
4. Paul says about that kind of approach in 1:18 that the important thing is that Christ is preached.
5. I have increasingly come to the conclusion over the years that there are very few things that it is worth dividing the church over. Those issues would include the nature of God, the divinity of Christ, and the doctrine of salvation. However, you rarely hear about church fights over such matters.
6. In fact, the main doctrine that the early years of the Restoration Movement brought to the church was this concept that we should be only Christians and consider ourselves one with all those who name the name of Christ. That is the
idea that Paul has developed in Philippians.
7. Now he closes the book, by re-emphasizing this idea.
In this final look at living together in Christ Paul mentions two concerns that we need to have in perspective for living together.
I. HAVE A GREETING PERSPECTIVE – Vss. 21,22.
A. Paul was writing against the background of division.
1. The night I was called to Bob and Sandy Brown’s house in Andover, IL. That night was a miniature of their relationship. Although, some of us spent a great deal of time working with them, their marriage did not survive because there was too much division between them that they could not correct.
2. That is the way things had been in the Philippian church. There were two situations in Philippi that brought this about:
a. Those who preached Christ out of envy – 1:15,17.
b. The division between Euodia and Syntyche.
3. These kinds of things happen when we want our own way at any cost:
Chuck Swindoll tells about sitting on a 727 about halfway back in the coach section (three-plus three configuration) when a family of three came aboard. Apparently they had purchased their tickets late and were unable to secure reserved seating in the same row. The airline attendant assured them that there were several empty seats...surely someone would be willing to swap.