Summary: A sermon about adopting the attitude of Christ.
Back in 1989, a youth group created the acronym WWJD?
The idea caught on and some advertisers made some serious money on the concept.
By the 1990's just about everyone was familiar with WWJD?
Bumper-stickers, Bible covers, tee-shirts, jewelry, and more came out of that idea.
Some say that the real message got lost in the marketing frenzy.
In Philippians Chapter 2 we come across a very moving passage in Paul's writing.
And in it, Paul says: "Adopt the attitude that was in Christ Jesus..."
Kind of similar to the message of those "What Would Jesus Do?" bracelets.
It can be easy to forget that a lot of the Bible came out of a community of faith that was grappling with the down-to-earth question of what it means to follow Jesus Christ.
Philippians, along with many of the other Books of the New Testament are real letters written to particular churches in particular situations in particular time frames.
This doesn't mean that they are frozen in the past and have no value today.
The very fact that they are as applicable to the situations we find ourselves in 2,000 years later, speaks volumes about, not only how much we have in common with our earliest brothers and sisters in Christ, but also to the continuing and eternal message of the Gospel.
Recently, I remarked to Clair: "You know, if you pastor a church long enough, a fair percentage of folks will get mad at you at--at least one point or another."
And that's okay, I suppose.
Because when we live in community with other people there will always be some conflict.
It's a simple fact of the life we live together as a church.
And sometimes church members will have trouble getting along with other church members.
We all have different ideas, and misinterpret the words or actions of others.
We all have feelings.
We are all human.
The key to all this, though, is being able to work out our differences of opinion, or our misunderstandings.
Or to keep ourselves from holding onto a grudge, day after day, year after year to the point where it has eaten away at our precious time, energy, health, joy and ability to follow Christ and make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
We all get frustrated at times.
And some of us might get frustrated with one another--but that doesn't mean we don't love one another.
We love because Christ first loved us.
There isn't a person here I don't love, and I feel as if you all love me as well...
...you might get frustrated with me at times, but I feel loved here.
I hope you do.
But look at what Paul says,
"Don't do anything for selfish purposes, but with humility think of others as better than yourselves.
Instead of each person watching out for their own good, watch out for what is better for others."
What in the world caused Paul to write such words?
How could he even think this way of life was even possible?
I mean, don't these words run counter to just about everything we naturally think, or to every inclination that naturally runs the daily operation of our lives?
Yes, of course they do.
That is why Paul must add and we must add:
"Adopt the attitude that was in Christ Jesus..."
That is the only way we can ever hope or dream of "doing nothing for selfish purposes..." but instead, "with humility think of others as better than ourselves"...and instead of watching out for numero uno-- watch out "for what is better for others."
Some churches today get messed up and off track due to selfish attitudes that lead to folks stomping their feet, gossiping behind the backs of others, arguing over issues of power, misunderstanding one another, getting mad at one another, hopping from church to church, having hurt feelings, sleepless nights--you name it!!!
Many of us have been there and it's not fun.
It's easy to forget that we are to be a reflection of Christ, not only to the world--but to one another as well.
So Paul says, "Adopt the attitude that was in Christ Jesus..."
In a world that can be so mean.
In a life that can be so hard.
Those words can nearly bring tears to my eyes.
You know why?
They point to hope.
There is hope beyond the heaviness of heart which creeps in and pounds me down when I'm trying my best, but my best never seems to be enough.
There is hope, even though the world is at war, and our neighbors next door won't even give us the time of day.
There is hope when even America is divided up into red states and blue states--Democrats, Republicans, Tea Partiers, and those who don't even care one way or the other--and if you don't think my way YOU are evil, subhuman, no longer my friend!!!