Summary: Another sermon from the whole letter to help people understand and be convicted of their personal responsibility for the Church’s effectiveness in the world today.
When I was a kid I loved to take things apart. Sure. That’s neat on the outside, and what it does it pretty neat, but what makes it work? What does it look like inside?
Whenever something minor broke down, it spelled opportunity to me. Because that meant it either needed to be fixed, or else it was beyond hope. Either way, that meant it had to be taken apart, and that’s how little boys learn about things so that when they grow into big boys one day they can attempt to fix them.
Story - Like the time that the vaporizer gave out. Maybe it was just dirty. For some reason, it wasn’t putting out steam. Maybe it wasn’t getting electricity like it needed to. So, I took the cover off the electrical parts, plugged it in, and connected the two prongs with a screwdriver. Nothing happened…at first. Then, after a brilliant flash of light, I realized it was getting electricity. I’d never seen a plug melt into the outlet like that before.
Story - You’d think I learn. I did. In fact, I learned enough to have confidence for fixing things now. Once our TV got moisture spilled into it, and I had to do the Dad thing and take it apart. Experience taught me to not mess around with electricity, so this time I unplugged it before I ever took off the back cover. I gained another lesson from experience when I grabbed hold of a thing called a capacitor. Don’t do that. If it says “capacitor,” don’t touch it!
There was once a day when watches actually had moving parts. I suppose pocket watches still do. If you ever took that back off you’d see that Mickey’s big hand and Mickey’s little hand were only 2 parts backed by dozens of little gears all stacked next to each other in the watch. And, if you took out one of those gears, the watch wouldn’t work.
I see a similar interdependence in the Church. It has a face, and inside, less-seen, are all the gears that make it tick. If you take one away, or one stops doing its part, the rest doesn’t work quite right. Paul, in some ways in this letter, is helping the Philippians see what will make them “keep on ticking.”
And we look at those pieces – those things that make us tick – and see that they’re just as important as they ever were. In fact, we’ll consider what they are, and then we’ll consider what it would be like if any one of them is left out of the picture.
3 necessary elements. Take away any one, and it just won’t work quite right. Our church won’t be what it could be. Your personal walk won’t be what it should be.
Ill - In a Peanuts cartoon strip, Snoopy sits droopy-eyed at the entrance of his doghouse. He sighs, "Yesterday I was a dog. Today I'm a dog. Tomorrow I'll probably still be a dog. There's such little hope for advancement."
When we join up with Jesus and talk about being His “disciple,” we’re expressing our understanding that we should be growing. Discipleship means learning; it means there’s something you don’t know, and you learn it – you change; you mature; you grow.
In other words, if you’re a Christian, progress isn’t just necessary – it’s essential. Progress is actually part of who we are when we become Jesus’ disciples.
It’s like riding a bike – you’re either moving forward or you’re falling off.
Paul knew this. In this letter he speaks about his expectations that he’ll keep growing, and also that the Philippians will keep growing in Jesus.
Philippians 1:6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
We can look at this a couple of ways today. We can say, “Oh, no, I’m not progressing! I’m not growing at all in my walk with the Lord. I need to make some changes!” Some of you need to say that today. On the other hand, you can look at this element and say, “Progress? Praise God that what I am right now isn’t what God’s going to make of me in the future! V6 is speaking about the good work of changing us and cleaning us up and getting rid of the crud in our past lives that still lingers around us. Jesus began that work in you and me. But, notice, it’s an unfinished job. He started this project, but “it’s not soup yet” until the day that Jesus comes again! And to that I say, Praise God! He’s not done with the process yet! I wonder how I’ll turn out!