Summary: Part 5 of study of Philippians
THE PASTOR’S POINTS
Bible Teaching Ministry of
CEDAR LODGE BAPTIST CHURCH
Dr. Russell Brownworth, Pastor
Talk about extremes! 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 factioned, getting worse each year.
The former 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.
Paul wrote to the Philippian believers, specifically requesting they be unified in their relationships and purpose. Paul wrote to humans; he knew there would be threats to unity. Common sense tells us that where there is good, evil will eventually clash. 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:
Be Christ like!
And so, the Biblio-logical mind would continue with a description of what constitutes Christ likeness in order to spell-out that which will lead to unity.
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) the Philippian church had was from being united in Christ. William Barclay says it differently, "If the fact that you are in Christ has any power to influence you..."
However you care to phrase this, the reality on the bottom line is that belonging to Christ daily will produce a natural "belongingness" with each other that transcends our sinful nature. The spiritual principle is that it is impossible to be in genuine fellowship with the Christ, when you are out of fellowship with anyone Christ died-for.
Tenderness and compassion 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.
Christian compassion is a matter of being vulnerable enough with each other and the needs of the world’s lost, so that we are moved viscerally and volitionally to do something about those needs. Our methods may conflict at times, but our goal will always keep us united.
In 1988 the USS Vincennes shot-down an Iranian airliner with 290 people aboard. It was a mistake. Public opinion polls showed most Americans were opposed to giving compensation to the families of the victims. The cruel treatment of American hostages was still fresh in our minds. But then President Reagan approved the compensation. He was asked by reporters if such payment could send the wrong signal. He said, "I don’t ever find compassion a bad precedent."
You cannot be Christ like without compassion. Remember, it was God standing there looking out over Jerusalem, weeping over the people who’d disowned Him throughout the ages.
One in spirit and purpose. Have you ever heard how they act in Japanese factories? At shift changes the oncoming workers are cheered by the ones finishing their time. They get together and sing the company song. It is done as a symbol of their singleness of purpose - the cooperation of people engaged in a task with a common goal.
When I think of cooperation my mind always flashes to the scene where the men are attempting to move the piano. They’re in the middle of the staircase. The man on the bottom yells to the man on top, "Hey, put a little muscle to this thing - we’ll never get it up these stairs." Says the little guy on top, "UP?"
It is critical for us to be on the same wavelength if we will be the kind of church Christ calls us to be. Christ likeness demands that we check-in with the head of the church, Jesus.
There are a few things that need to come to an end in any church that wishes to be Christ like.
One is SELFISHNESS:
In every fellowship there are those who wish to be prominent, petted and pacified. When the Roman governor Ambrose was nominated to be bishop he felt so unworthy to be given such an honor he ran and hid for days. It took the intervention of the emperor to even get Ambrose to consider. Today his writings give us invaluable insight into the early church’s history. The word "humility" comes from two words, "dust" and "midriff." You get the drift? You can’t call yourself humble unless you’re willing to crawl through the dust "...for the least of these my brethren."