Summary: Christ is the perfect example to his church of unity, love, and humility.
Complete My Joy
Today’s text is Philippians chapter 2:1-11. Turn there in your Bibles if you would.
As you are turning there I would like to ask the question: what makes a good church? One person responds to that question this way:
In a good church:
All the lazy folks will get up,
And all the sleeping folks will wake up,
And all the discouraged folks will cheer up, And all gossiping folks will shut up,
And all the dishonest folks will ‘fess up,
And all the estranged folks will make up,
And all the disgusted folks will sweeten up,
And all the lukewarm folks will fire up,
And all the dry bones will shape up,
And all the sanctified folks will show up,
And all the leading folks will pay up,
And all the true soldiers will stand up,
According to this person, a good church will wake up, pray up, sing up, teach up, stay up, and never give up, back up, or shut up until the cause of Christ is built up.
That’s a humorous way of describing a good church. And you know, if we asked 10 different people that same question we are likely to get 10 different responses. And I want to answer the question, ‘what makes a good church?’ from our text this morning. And you might say, ‘Pastor, the last time I checked, the word “church” isn’t in Philippians 2:1-11.’ And you’d be right. But Paul here is addressing the individuals of the church at Philippi. And as we will see he is going to give them instruction on how to be Christ-like. Now a good church is a Christ-like church. And in order for a church to be Christ-like, it has to be filled with Christ-like people. And so I want us to see from our text this morning that a Christ-like body of believers will be unified, loving, and humble. A Christ-like body of believers will be unified, loving, and humble. Follow along as I read Philippians chapter 2:1-11.
[Read Philippians 2:1-11]
Here we have the Apostle Paul giving instruction as to how to have the same mind as Christ. He’s telling the Philippians how to be Christ-like. And he tells them several things. First, Paul encouraged unity within the body.
[Paul encouraged unity within the body.]
Look again at verses 1-2.
In other words, ‘If all of these things are true; if Christ has come alongside you, and is your comfort and your reason for comforting others in love, and if you have fellowship with God by the Spirit of God, and if you have true genuine affection for the body and for me [me being Paul]; if these things are true, then complete my joy by being of the same mind.’
You see Paul’s personal joy was linked to whether or not the believers in Philippi were unified. He exhorts them to ‘be of the same mind’ and to be ‘in full accord and of one mind.’ And the two phrases convey similar ideas but they do have different nuances. The phrase ‘be of the same mind’ simply means to ‘think in the same way’. And to be ‘in full accord and of one mind’ conveys the idea of being ‘intent on the same purpose.’ So we get the idea here that we are not just talking about looking like we’re one on the outside. It’s an inward state of mind. We are focused around one purpose and that is the unity of the body for the sake of the gospel.
One person pointed out that there can be union without unity. If you tie two cats together by their tails and throw them over a clothesline, then you will have union, but certainly not unity! They will be together physically, but definitely not on the same page. And so it is with the body, the unity that Paul speaks of here is a unity of mind. It is a deep, genuine unity based upon a common purpose; and is not superficial or artificial. And that leads us to our next point, that Christ demonstrated unity within the Godhead.
[Christ demonstrated unity within the Godhead.]
If Paul encouraged unity based upon a common purpose within the body, Christ exemplified such unity within the Godhead. Turn your attention to verses 5-6.
[Read vv. 5-6]
The text says that though Christ was in the form of God, he did not consider equality with God a thing to be grasped. One scholar notes that the phrase ‘a thing to be grasped’ originally meant ‘something to be seized by robbery’ and it has the idea of holding on to something tightly or clinging to something. And so the idea is that even though Christ is and always has been God; and even though Christ has every right to claim and cling to his position within the Godhead, he did not do so because he was united in purpose with the Father. It was the Father’s purpose that Christ voluntarily lay aside his heavenly position for a season in order to accomplish the redemption of humanity and so it was Christ’s purpose as well. There is in this case, and there is always in every case, perfect unity within the counsels of the triune God.