Summary: An exhortation to be Christlike preached at a confirmation service
Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death — even death on a cross. Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:5 - 11 (NRSVA)
Confirmation for me will always carry pictures of balloons being batted back and forth in an impromptu “volleyball” game, and potato chips disappearing like they’re being sucked down by a vacuum cleaner (or 12 of them to be precise). Amid the times of fun there were times of learning about our faith.
For our confirmands, today marks the end of theory and the beginning of walking as co-laborers with Christ as responsible members of this church. In fact, ladies and gentleman, you graduate from “being-served” to being servants. You are no longer to be thought of as “tomorrow’s church;” your tomorrow is here. You are now beginning to create what this church will be in the future. This church is becoming what it will be, and, increasingly so, you will determine what it will be to the rest of the world – for good or bad.
The very best place to be is in a church that is unified and handling well the threats to unity. The very worst is a church that is splintered and fractioned, getting worse each year. Talk about extremes! A unified church is a healthy, risk-taking place, where people care deeply, but are also caring. In a splintered church, factions center on personal preferences, rather than ministry. And you are making it one or the other!
Paul wrote to the Philippian believers, specifically requesting they be unified in their relationships and purpose. Paul wrote to humans; so he knew there would be threats to unity. Common sense tells us that where there is good, evil will eventually show-up and there will be a collision.
Throughout the last two thousand years churches have had only one main problem – disunity!
God speaks to us today through the apostle’s plea – to remain in God’s will you must be in unity. Our question, of course is, how in the world can we do that? The answer to unity isn’t easy, but it can be easily stated:
It’s hardly enough to say “be Christ-like” and leave it at that. We need to know: what constitutes Christ likeness; how do you do it; what does it look like when you’ve got it?
Reasonable and serious followers of Christ want to know how to stay unified in a world where so much pulls at our relationships. Paul unpacks for us the ingredients and recipe for Christ-like unity:
1If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit…. Philippians 2:1a
It is impossible to ACT like Christ if you do not WALK WITH Christ! This above all things could solve the problems of churches around the world in any age. Believers who get away from a close walk with the Master cannot reproduce Christ likeness in the flesh. Paul said that the encouragement (strength) of the Philippian church was from being united in Christ.
Belonging to Christ daily will produce a natural "belongingness" with each other that transcends our sinful nature like a trump card. We may be sinful and imperfect, but as we stay close to Jesus, He works His perfect work in us to help us be in communion with one another.
The spiritual principle is that it is when you are in genuine fellowship with Christ your fellowship with anyone for whom Christ died will get better because of His humility changing your ways and attitude.
…any compassion and sympathy Philippians 2:1b
Compassion and sympathy are the same word in Greek. They are from the root word which in English is "spleen." That little organ helps purify your blood. It is located in the visceral area, and the ancient Greeks thought of it as the center or seat of emotion. After all, when you get upset, the first place you’re liable to feel bad is the mid-section.
I ate some dinner on the run from a fast food place Wednesday night before our Cradle to the Cross rehearsal. My mid-section didn’t stop complaining until about 4am Thursday morning. It has an effect on you!