Summary: Philippians 2:9-11. The rightful lordship of Jesus is explained from these familiar verses.
AGAIN I SAY REJOICE
AN EXCLUSIVE CLAIM IN AN INCLUSIVE WORLD
- What does it mean to be inclusive? I suppose a good way to put it is that to be inclusive means to accept all persons, or ideas, or worldviews as completely equal in a given situation. We are not talking about what we might call an all-inclusive stay at some resort; where everything from the room to meals, amenities, etc. is included in one price. We are concerned with inclusiveness as it relates to people and/or ideas.
- Inclusiveness is one of the most lauded personal attributes in today’s society. You are the world’s hero if you refuse to claim that anything that is right for you is also right for someone else. A decent person, according to some, understands that I have my truths, my principles, my beliefs, my life, and you have yours. Being inclusive usually goes hand in hand with being relativistic. All things are equal, and there is no one right anything, so all things are given the same acceptance.
- There are times when being inclusive is the right thing. For example, we wouldn’t want our ability to buy a house or get a job to be based upon our skin color or in most cases our gender. At the same time, there are situations where including everyone is far from desirable. I think it is a good thing that only women are allowed to use a women’s public restroom, and vice versa for men. Not too many people would disagree with those assessments.
- When we come to issue of religious faith, however, things often get heated. Tensions arise because there are those who assume that all religious claims are equal, and that no one system is right for everyone. Whatever you want to believe for yourself is fine, and whatever I want to believe for myself is fine.
- Others hold that their point of view is the only right way to think about things. Most of the time Christians are given that stigma; but Christians are not the only ones who think they have the only claim to the truth. There are atheists who believe that all religion is harmful, and that religion is the cause of most, if not all of the world’s problems. So atheism and scientific enlightenment is the right and proper way to think for everyone.
- You can see why those who hold all ideas to be equal and those who make exclusive truth claims sometimes don’t get along very well. Now you might be asking the question: “What category does Christianity fall into?” Is Christianity exclusive or inclusive?
- Let’s answer that question and then explain it from our text. Is Christianity exclusive? Yes it is. There is no way to wiggle around the fact that biblical Christianity makes the claim that it is the only true religion, to the exclusion of all others. So is Christianity inclusive? I suppose we would think that the answer would be “no” because we just stated that it is exclusive; but they answer is “yes”. Christianity is inclusive in a certain sense as well.
- In what way is biblical Christianity exclusive? The Bible claims that Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven; and that everyone without faith in Jesus will spend eternity in hell, away from God. That’s about as exclusive as it gets. Do you want to go to heaven? Jesus Christ is your only hope.
- So how can such an exclusive faith also be inclusive? Because the offer of salvation through Jesus Christ is open to everyone. True biblical faith is inclusive in its scope and exclusive in its claim. Anyone who desires to come can come, but they must come on God’s terms, understanding that there is only one truth; and it is personified in the person of Jesus Christ who said that he is the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through him.
- Now we see both concepts here in Philippians 2:9-11. The exclusive aspect of Christianity is blatantly obvious in these verses. But when we look carefully we will also notice a hint of inclusiveness as well. Listen to what Paul says:
[READ PHILIPPIANS 2:9-11]
Let’s begin our look at this passage with this overarching truth:
JESUS CHRIST WILL BE EXALTED ABOVE EVERYTHING AND EVERYONE
- That’s the point of all three of these verses. Now exalted is a word we use a lot in Christendom; but it’s really not a word we use too much in normal conversation. Some of you know exactly what it means; but maybe some of you don’t. When I was a boy I remember going to church one Sunday with my late grandmother and one of the songs we sang that morning was He is Exalted. Apparently my grandmother had never heard the word exalted before because I can remember listening to her sing: “He is exhausted, the King is exhausted on high...” Exhausted is not exactly the same as exalted!