Summary: What a great description of the church! A weird mix of people of different generations, different personalities, different ethnic, economic, religious backgrounds, who might never hang out together— except for the fact that we all love Jesus!
“Weirdest herd I’ve ever seen.”
(Show clip from Ice Age 1 where the mammoth saves the saber tooth tiger, Diego. Afterwards Diego asks the mammoth why he risked his life to save him. The mammoth replies, "Because that's what you do when you are a part of a herd. To which the sloth says, "Weirdest herd I've even seen".)
What a great description of the church! (Title Slide) A weird mix of people of different generations, with different personalities, different ethnic, economic, religious backgrounds, different ideas sometimes, who might never hang out together— except for the one thing that we have in common: we love Jesus. And are being transformed by His amazing love and mercy. Because of that, we hang out together. But even more than that, this “weird herd” of Christ followers, are called to look after each other.
When the church is working right, it becomes a place where our old sinful nature and selfish instincts begin to die and we start thinking differently about the people around us. People whom we might never have associated with, or befriended before, become our spiritual brothers and sisters. In Christ we become family. And we find ourselves wanting to bring in more and more people of all shapes, colors, sizes, ages and stages. The church becomes a place for those who might not otherwise fit anywhere else—to belong! And our herd, our community, becomes a place of love, service and sacrifice. A place where people become new through the transforming power of Jesus at work in their lives and a place where they belong.
This is week 2 of our Vision 2017 series! We are looking at EWC’s 4 E’s. Encounter Christ, Embrace Community, Equip to Serve and Engage Culture. Last week I shared the vision for Encounter Christ. If you missed last week I encourage you to watch last week’s message online and get caught up.
Today we’re looking at Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi. If there is one theme that continually surfaces in Paul’s letter to the Philippians, it’s this theme of sacrificial love and service. Paul introduces himself and Timothy in Philippians 1:1 as (Slide) “servants of Christ Jesus.” In chapter 2 Paul describes how Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords humbled himself and became a servant.
All this talk about servanthood and sacrifice sets the stage for the section of his letter we’re looking closely at today, where Paul talks about his friends, Timothy and Epaphroditus.
Remember, Paul’s not writing some kind of theological dissertation. This is a letter from a friend to a group of friends. We know that when Paul wrote this letter, he was in prison. He was far from his home. Far from his friends. Unable to carry out the calling that he was so passionate about, to share the message of Jesus wherever and with whomever he could. Isolated in prison, he felt an incredible sense of distance from his friends his herd in Philippi, people for whom he cared deeply.
But he has not been completely alone. What makes this section so meaningful is the positive influence that Timothy and Epaphroditus, two very good friends have had in Paul’s life. And what we see in these verses is how they have served as connecting points between him and the church in Philippi . They have blessed him as friends while he was in prison. And they have also been a link between him and his faraway friends.
I love the way Paul talks about Timothy. In verses 20-23: (slide)
“I have no one else like him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare. For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel. I hope, therefore, to send him as soon as I see how things go with me.”
One of the issues that the Philippian church was struggling with was manipulative self-serving teachers, were abusing their position as spiritual leaders to gain power and influence.
Paul’s response to the leadership crisis in Philippi is to send Timothy and Epaphroditus to the church to address the situation. In these two friends we see the ingredients of true community.
What stands out about Timothy is that he isn’t sent to Philippi to help resolve their issues because he has such a great bible teacher or has such great leadership credentials. What makes Timothy the man for the job is that he has a servants heart. Unlike the teachers who were causing problems in the church Timothy is Christ-like example of a humble and selfless servant. Again Paul said “I have no one else like him who takes a genuine interest in your welfare and is sincerely focused on the mission of Jesus in the world. It is the faith and heart of Timothy that makes him qualified to deal with the leadership issues in Philippi . They are out for their own selfish gain and advantage. Timothy is all about selflessly serving Jesus and others. (slide) So the first characteristic of community is Selfless service.