Summary: Fifth in series. A look at the identity we truly have in Christ.
Introduction: Mirror, mirror in my hand; tell me how beautiful I really am!
Arrogant to fucus on such external values.
As though I had control over my genetic makeup. Determining which genes I wanted/
As a church we do the same
Superficially evaluating ourselves
Value ourselves by what is seen
A "good church" has
• quality outreach programs
• diversified Bible study classes
• meaningful small group ministry
• active fellowship
• first-rate education programs
• dynamic music ministry
• well kept facilities
We become so focused on these externals that we begin to define who we are by them
We must ask ourselves "What does the people of God look like?" "What criteria determines our identity?"
Paul describes three traits which define Christian Identity
1. Community (vss 1-2)
"Does your life in Christ make you strong? Does his love comfort you? Do you have fellowship with the Spirit? Do you feel kindness and compassion for one another? I urge you, then, make me completely happy by having the same thoughts, sharing the same love, and being one in soul and mind." Philippians 2:1-2 (TEV)
"If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose." Philippians 1:1-2 (NIV)
We are to be as one body. Paul describes this as the body of Christ. Last week we studied the dynamics of this body, this singular mind, purpose. The Body, which stands in stark contrast to individualism. Although each member is Unique as a body we are a Union, each member of equal Worth, and each member Belonging.
2. Servanthood (vss 3-4)
"Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others better than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others." Philippians 2:3-4 (RSV)
Stark contrast to the supremacy of self.
We live in the era of self
Prized at school
work (Look out for #1 attitude)
marriage (What works best for you; It’s not about the spouse/kids, but me. Am I happy)
church (Take out of context Paul’s words, "Work out your own salvation". We take this as a call for individual growth apart from the community
Then-women & children first
Now-equality of the sexes; each one for themselves
How would you respond?
Paul’s words were spoken in the context of Philippians 1:29-30
"For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, engaged in the same conflict which you saw and now hear to be mine." Philippians 1:29-30 (RSV)
In the face of persecution put others first. When your packing your bags to get out of town, out of harms way, make sure your neighbor has a ride.
3. Christlikeness (vss 5-8)
"Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Jesus Christ, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross." Philippians 2:5-8 (RSV)
Christ is our greatest example of sacrificial love.
"And Jesus called them to him and said to them, "You know that those who are supposed to rule over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of man also came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."" Mark 10:42-45 (RSV)
Both Christ and Paul declare that we are to attain a selfless example of faith. To have the same mind as Christ.
Does this mean that we should simply mimic Christ; go where he went, say what he said, do what he did?
The call to be like Christ is something more than simply acting like Jesus. It’s to have his same drive, goals, ambitions. To have the same Spirit.
Illustration of imitators
The Missionary Recruit
A new missionary recruit went to Venezuela for the first time. He was struggling with the language and didn’t understand a whole lot of what was going on. Intending to visit one of the local churches, he got lost, but eventually got back on track and found the place. Having arrived late, the church was already packed. The only pew with a seat open was the one on the front row. So as not to make a fool of himself, this recruit decided to pick someone out of the crowd to imitate. He chose to follow the man sitting next to him on the front pew. As they sang, the missionary tried to follow along. When the man stood up to pray, the missionary recruit stood up too. When the man sat down, he sat down. When the man took the cup and bread for the Lord’s Supper, he took the cup and bread. During the preaching, the recruit didn’t understand a thing. He just sat there and tried to look just like that man in the front pew. Then he perceived that the preacher was giving announcements. People clapped, so he looked to see if the man was clapping. He was, and so the recruit clapped too. Then the preacher said some words that he didn’t understand and he saw the man next to him stand up. So he stood up too. Suddenly a hush fell over the entire congregation. A few people gasped. He looked around and saw that nobody else was standing, so he sat down. After the service ended, the preacher stood at the door shaking the hands of those who were leaving. When the missionary recruit stretched out his hand to greet the preacher, the preacher said, in English: "I take it you don’t speak Spanish." The missionary recruit replied: "No I don’t. Is it that obvious?" "Well yes," said the preacher, "I announced that the Acosta family had a newborn baby boy and would the proud father please stand up."