Summary: Living in community is a way for encouraging others in their faith.
Monkey See, Monkey Do
This morning our scripture is a description of a concept.
To be a bit more specific the idea that I hope we focus on is called community. That is a word that we may all know a definition for.
We talk about our church community, and the silver creek community all the time.
A clinical definition might go something like, a group of people joined by similar beliefs or area or interest. Community might be centered around baseball or church or music or Golf…
I have a friend named John. (He us unaware that he is a wealth of sermon illustrations. If I want him to find out about that detail I will tell him.) John years ago was on the Pepperell Football team. It was easy to believe because he is about 3 inches taller than me. He works out and has huge arms. That my give you a hint of why I would not want to upset him…
He talked about his High School Sports days a lot. I remember him telling me about a game that they were not expected to win.
He was one of the front line guys whose job it was to protect the quarterback. John described facing some monster of a guy that made him look average size. He said that the QB called the play and John banged into this guy and nothing moved. The harder he tried to drive him backwards the longer the guy’s arm seemed to get. He said that this guy just kept jamming him in the chin. He said the play seemed to last forever.
Finally, the whistle blew and his team huddled up and the QB spent the whole time saying, John you let your man through, John it is all your fault. John you let me down. John agued, saying, it wasn’t my man over and over again. With time up the QB said “same play” and they lined up again.
He said the story was exactly the same, except this time he never really got close to this guy except for the end of his arm and this other player pounded him backward.
The QB was down again and started shouting at John about him letting his man through and how he had to stop him this time. John, softly and slowly through clenched teeth, said, It wasn’t my man.
He did not argue with his QB this time, the just listened to the verbal reprimand. Basically, He sucked it up and with a determined look on his face and teeth still clenched, they were back on the line again.
This time it was different. When the play started the other players arm came up and he started toward John under full power and John stepped aside and let him pass. In an instant the play was over. The QB was flat on his back gasping for air.
John walked over leaned down to where the QB lay and said… “That was my man!”
While that was satisfying to John, he was not acting in a way that was best for the community or any individuals in the football team community.
He was only willing to go so far when his efforts went unrecognized….Ultimately he acted in a way that satisfied him at the expense of community.
-- Paul is writing a letter of encouragement to the church in Philippi. In chapter 1 - He speaks of his imprisonment and attacks against him caused hardship for him personally. However, this hardship causes Christ to be preached.
He encourages his readers to live in a way as to be faithful to the gospel especially in their own time of hardship. He encourages readers to stand firm as one spirit and a united body.
Our text offers a little different definition of community than we might think of:
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. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
So, after Paul set the stage of being united and standing firm when being punished for your faith, he then supports his position with a series of ifs…
In my study on this passage there was a common point about the pattern of the words and sentences…
The Ifs are not passive for the reader to decide, they are not an expression of doubt.
The (Ifs) are building a strong argument from the writer. He is building a case to persuade the readers.