Summary: This sermon attempts to address the growing challenge of getting along in church given our differences due to culture wars, politics, personal opinions, prejudices, etc.
Title: Getting Along
Text: Philippians 2:1-13
Thesis: When we have the same attitude as Christ, we will get along together and please God.
Our text was originally written to Christians living in Philippi which was a Roman Colony and as such they were citizens of the Roman Empire. They were Romans. Wherever they were in the Roman Empire and for that matter the world, they were Roman citizens. And as Roman citizens they lived with the privileges and responsibilities of Roman citizenship.
This concept is easily transferable to us. We are citizens of the United States of America. We are perceived as generous tippers, friendly, uncomplicated, rich, standard bearers for freedom and equality, creative and a technological power. While largely admired in the world we are known for our gun violence, angry racial division and for having an outsize penchant for defense spending.
Those less enchanted by us refer to us as Ugly Americans… loud, arrogant, rude, obnoxious and exhibiting a sense of privilege. I did chuckle a bit when I read one tongue in cheek description of Americans as lazy, obese and over-medicated.
While there are always those who manage to embarrass us I think most Americans are proud to be Americans and wish to be responsible citizens. So whether citizens of the ancient Roman Empire or citizens of the contemporary United States we are expected to live into the highest expectations of our citizenship. With that high standard in mind the Apostle Paul ups the citizenship ante and adds, “Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ.” Philippians 1:27 In other words we are urged to live here and now, as we will live there and then.
I think of all the descriptors of what it will be like there and then, that come to mind… I am looking forward to living in absolute peace.
• Isaiah 9:6 – 7 - For unto us a child is born, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders and he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end.
• In I Timothy 2:2 Paul instructs us to pray for all who are in authority so we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.
• I Thessalonians 5:13 urges us to live peacefully with each other.
• We are to work at living in peace with everyone and work at living a holy life. Hebrews 12:14
So with the thought that if we live now as we will live then… we will live in peace. So how can we consciously go about living in peace and getting along here and now?
Is there a compelling biblical case in this text for our getting along with each other? What about this text motivates us to care about and work toward getting along with each other? Certainly one motivator is a:
A. Heartfelt Passion and Purpose Is Necessary. (This means we care about Christ and what Christ cares about…)
Make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another and working together with one mind and purpose. Philippians 2:1-4
The Apostle Paul was concerned about two threats to the life and ministry of the church at Philippi…
1. The threat was external or from without or outside the church, i.e., persecution.
2. The threat was internal or from within the church, i.e., dissention or strife.
This piece of our text speaks specifically to the internal threat of strife. Dissention is when Christians don’t get along Dissention happens when Christians get tripped up by their differences.
An automaton is a mechanical devise made in imitation of a human being… a human robot. The church is not a group of automatons or human robots walking in lockstep but rather a group of individuals who, despite our differences, are willing to show love for one another through putting the well-being of others first.
Scripture teaches us there is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28
In this new life it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave or free, Democrat or Republican, a 1%er or a 99%er, a Bears fan or Green Bay fan. Christ is all that matters and he lives in all of us. Colossians 3:11
1. Agreeing to agree and/or disagree with each other
2. Loving one another
3. Working together
4. Considering the other… are all key elements cited in the text for getting along with each other.
A culture war is a conflict between groups with different ideals, beliefs, opinions and philosophies. We are currently enmeshed in an ongoing culture war on what it means to respect the flag and the Constitutional right to freedom of expression.