Summary: Our actions and attitudes with which we live our lives must be inspired and modeled after both the truth of who Jesus is and the example He has set for us.
Christ the King – But What Kind of King Really?
Phil 2:5-11 November 21, 2010
We are coming back this morning into our study of Philippians, after a two-week break that celebrated our partnerships in ministry and mission. Those two weeks are an important part of our ministry through partnership – we, as a local church, can’t do a whole lot in the important area of theological education, especially in Brazil, but we can partner with people like Doug Janzen and thus very much be a part of that important area of ministry. Likewise, we can’t solve the global problems of justice and “stupid poverty”, but we can come alongside 12 teachers and 130 children in Bolivia through our partnership with Ivan and the Casa de la Amistad. And the main message I took from the past two Sundays, and my substantial conversations with our partners around those big events, was this: we, as a little church here on 142 street, really are making an impact, we really are a significant factor, and we really are appreciated. I don’t say that to puff us up or make us feel prideful, but rather to encourage us that the work we have entered into with our partners is bearing fruit for the Kingdom of God, and that Jesus – our King – has sent us as “citizens of heaven”, we have done our best to follow, and the past two weeks I felt the smile of our King in our obedience. We have not labored in vain. And as your pastor here, I want to say that I deeply rejoice in the hearts of service, of generosity, and of wise partnership that I see continuing to grow and be expressed here at Laurier. We are, I believe, honestly being more conformed into the image of Jesus as our focus continues to shift from ourselves and our needs to how we can serve and bless others as bearers of the good news.
Now those of you who really listened carefully to that introduction might well have connected it to some of the themes we have been seeing in our study of Philippians. We left off last time with 2:1-4, and so now I’d like to take us back into Philippians 2. I’m going to begin again in verse 1 and read through to the end of verse 11. You might want to just follow along on the screen as I’m using the NRSV mostly, with a couple places where I’ve chosen alternative translations (which you’ll see in brackets).
Phil 2:1-11 (NRSV mostly…)
If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, 2make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. 4Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. 5Let the same mind be in you that (you have) in Christ Jesus,
6 who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to (cling to),
7 but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
8 he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death—
even death on a cross.
9 Therefore God also highly exalted him
and gave him the name
that is above every name,
10 so that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
Appreciating and Experiencing:
This hymn is, for me, deep, complex, beautiful, inspiring, humbling, and very moving. Have you ever had that experience of reading a piece of poetry for an English course, having it move you, and then going to class and dissecting it and analyzing it and reducing what was an emotional connection to an academic/intellectual experience? I don’t want to do that with this passage. I do want to get into it deeply, because if it is studied well the deeper understanding heightens the emotional – and in this case spiritual – connection, but I don’t want to begin there.
I want to slow us down. These words are full of power if we will pause in them. They will shape us and mold us if we will let them. They will inspire us to a deeper love for God and others if we will experience them. So here is what I want to do. Before we dive in and study the passage this week and next week, I want us to read the words together, out loud, slowly, with some significant pauses, and accompanied by an image on the screen try to absorb them into our hearts and spirits, through our minds and through our emotions. Then we’ll begin our study, continuing it next week, and we’ll close each week by repeating this meditative corporate reading exercise. The logistics are simple – please read the phrase on the screen along with me, and then pause to absorb and meditate and allow the Holy Spirit to translate the words to you and bring them alive within you, and I’ll ring a simple bell when we are ready to move to the next phrase.