Summary: Why am I here? Where do I fit in? What is life all about? Who cares about me? Ultimately, we find these answers in the one who created us. God wants each of us to find a place of belonging in His family.
Longing for Belonging
Philippians 3:17 - 21 17 Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you. 18 For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.
Intro: Many people today are not sure where they fit into the scheme of things. They are searching for meaning and direction as they go through life. Michael W. Smith wrote a song several years ago, “Searching for a reason, roaming through the night to find my place in this world. Not a lot to lean on, I need Your light to help me find my place in this world.” People are confused and like Jesus said, “They are like sheep w/o a shepherd.” They are wandering around trying to find where they belong. People are asking these questions: Why am I here? Where do I fit in? What is life all about? Who cares about me? Ultimately, we find these answers in the one who created us.
Prop: God wants each of us to find a place of belonging in His family.
Interrogative: How can we know where we belong in God’s family?
TS: We will look at four areas today that will help us find where we belong and how to get there.
I. We Must Know Whose Example To Follow (17)
-Paul uses the words “my” and “we” to describe not only himself, but his partners in ministry. He may have been referring to Timothy, Epaphroditus, and/or other believers who were associated with Paul.
-The main idea is that in their pursuit to know Christ better and to keep pressing on in their relationship and service for Him, Paul tells them to join together in following his example. He also says to take note of those who are living according to the pattern He and his fellow ministers have given to them.
-So, clearly we have the idea of unity here. As opposed to everyone doing their own thing, Paul tells them to join together in following his Godly example. If you are the only one who sees a certain thing as right or true, that should concern you a little bit. Maybe there is wisdom and accountability in joining with other believers in determining what is the best way to live. I am not suggesting that we base our lives solely on what other people think we should do, but we should realize that we may have an incomplete picture, if we rely only on our own understanding, or only use our personal experience to process information. We often need other believers to help us figure out what God is telling us. Proverbs 11:14 “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.”
-Who should we follow? Obviously, Jesus is the One we must ultimately follow. However, He has also placed people around us who can help show us how to live right and please God with our lives.
-Therefore, it is good for us to identify Godly people whose lives are good examples for us to follow. We do not have the equivalent of an apostle Paul, but as I look around our own church family here, there are many good examples of how to live a godly life.
-It is helpful for most of us to be able to see someone model how to live, so we can learn from their example. Most people learn by watching others (how to do a job, how to be a good basketball/football/baseball player, how to cook, how to repair an engine, how to grow a garden, etc.). We need to be able to see it work for someone else. In turn, there are others who are watching our lives who need to be able to see Christianity working for us.
-Naturally, there is also a word of caution in order here. Since only Jesus is perfect, do not put too much emphasis on any single individual. Otherwise, if/when they make a mistake, you may become disillusioned and be tempted to walk away from God and your faith. Don’t let that happen! Just understand that every human has faults, but we can still learn from one another and help one another, as we learn to live together in love and unity. God can show us where we belong as we follow Him and follow the examples of Godly people around us.