by Mike Ratliff
1 Εἴ τις οὖν παράκλησις ἐν Χριστῷ, εἴ τι παραμύθιον ἀγάπης, εἴ τις κοινωνία πνεύματος, εἴ τις σπλάγχνα καὶ οἰκτιρμοί, 2 πληρώσατέ μου τὴν χαρὰν ἵνα τὸ αὐτὸ φρονῆτε, τὴν αὐτὴν ἀγάπην ἔχοντες, σύμψυχοι, τὸ ἓν φρονοῦντες, 3 μηδὲν κατʼ ἐριθείαν μηδὲ κατὰ κενοδοξίαν ἀλλὰ τῇ ταπεινοφροσύνῃ ἀλλήλους ἡγούμενοι ὑπερέχοντας ἑαυτῶν, 4 μὴ τὰ ἑαυτῶν ἕκαστος σκοποῦντες ἀλλὰ [καὶ] τὰ ἑτέρων ἕκαστοι.
5 Τοῦτο φρονεῖτε ἐν ὑμῖν ὃ καὶ ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ,
6 ὃς ἐν μορφῇ θεοῦ ὑπάρχων
οὐχ ἁρπαγμὸν ἡγήσατο
τὸ εἶναι ἴσα θεῷ,
7 ἀλλʼ ἑαυτὸν ἐκένωσεν
μορφὴν δούλου λαβών,
ἐν ὁμοιώματι ἀνθρώπων γενόμενος·
καὶ σχήματι εὑρεθεὶς ὡς ἄνθρωπος
8 ἐταπείνωσεν ἑαυτὸν
γενόμενος ὑπήκοος μέχρι θανάτου,
θανάτου δὲ σταυροῦ.
9 διὸ καὶ ὁ θεὸς αὐτὸν ὑπερύψωσεν
καὶ ἐχαρίσατο αὐτῷ τὸ ὄνομα
τὸ ὑπὲρ πᾶν ὄνομα,
10 ἵνα ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι Ἰησοῦ
πᾶν γόνυ κάμψῃ
ἐπουρανίων καὶ ἐπιγείων καὶ καταχθονίων
11 καὶ πᾶσα γλῶσσα ἐξομολογήσηται ὅτι
κύριος Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς
εἰς δόξαν θεοῦ πατρός. (Philippians 2:1-11 NA28)
1 Therefore, if there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassions, 2 make my joy complete by being of the same mind, having the same love, as ones joined in soul, in one mind, 3 doing nothing according to rivalry neither according to empty conceit but in humility, esteeming one another above self. 4 Let each of you look not only to your own interests, but those of one other.
5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,
6 who though in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped,
7 but he poured himself out, taking the form of a slave being born in the likeness of men, and having been found in appearance as a man,
8 he humbled himself, having become obedient unto death, and that death by a cross.
9 Wherefore also God exalted him and gave to him the name above every name
10 that in the name of Jesus, every knee should bend of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth
11 and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:1-11 translated from the NA28 Greek text)
Here we have Paul’s exhortation for believers to live out their lives in Christ in the Spirit by living in unity. Who is our example? It is Christ! Christ’s humbling himself to become our Saviour is our example to serve one another. We are to consider other people’s interests first. Jesus did not come and set up a huge church or ministry to rival the Temple et cetera. He did not instruct his disciples to do that either. No, that sort of religiosity is not what we should be about. I hope you noticed that throughout this exhortation by Paul, that he focused on our worship and service of our Lord and that was lived through the sacrificial love for each other.
12 Ὥστε, ἀγαπητοί μου, καθὼς πάντοτε ὑπηκούσατε, μὴ ὡς ἐν τῇ παρουσίᾳ μου μόνον ἀλλὰ νῦν πολλῷ μᾶλλον ἐν τῇ ἀπουσίᾳ μου, μετὰ φόβου καὶ τρόμου τὴν ἑαυτῶν σωτηρίαν κατεργάζεσθε· 13 θεὸς γάρ ἐστιν ὁ ἐνεργῶν ἐν ὑμῖν καὶ τὸ θέλειν καὶ τὸ ἐνεργεῖν ὑπὲρ τῆς εὐδοκίας. 14 Πάντα ποιεῖτε χωρὶς γογγυσμῶν καὶ διαλογισμῶν, 15 ἵνα γένησθε ἄμεμπτοι καὶ ἀκέραιοι, τέκνα θεοῦ ἄμωμα μέσον γενεᾶς σκολιᾶς καὶ διεστραμμένης, ἐν οἷς φαίνεσθε ὡς φωστῆρες ἐν κόσμῳ, 16 λόγον ζωῆς ἐπέχοντες, εἰς καύχημα ἐμοὶ εἰς ἡμέραν Χριστοῦ, ὅτι οὐκ εἰς κενὸν ἔδραμον οὐδὲ εἰς κενὸν ἐκοπίασα. 17 Ἀλλʼ εἰ καὶ σπένδομαι ἐπὶ τῇ θυσίᾳ καὶ λειτουργίᾳ τῆς πίστεως ὑμῶν, χαίρω καὶ συγχαίρω πᾶσιν ὑμῖν· 18 τὸ δὲ αὐτὸ καὶ ὑμεῖς χαίρετε καὶ συγχαίρετέ μοι. (Philippians 2:12-18 NA28)
12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed in my presence, even much more so in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For God is the one working in you both to will and to work on behalf of his good pleasure. 14 Do all things without grumblings and arguments 15 that you may be blameless and pure children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast to the word of life, so that in the Day of Christ I may boast that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. 17 But if indeed, I am poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and priestly service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice together with you all 18 and in the same way you should be glad and rejoice with me. (Philippians 2:12-18 translated from the NA28 Greek text)
Paul was no antinomian. What does it mean for believers to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling? I confess that I have fallen into the mistake of becoming content with spiritual successes. We can’t do that, but instead, we need to demonstrate our faith each day as we nurture our relationships with God. God’s justice is indeed a cause for sober living. Also, Paul is not telling us that we can never be good enough to merit God’s favor. Instead, it is God’s love and enabling grace that will see us through our spiritual growth and maturing. We know this is so because it is God who works in us, not just for our benefit, but for His good pleasure. That is only terrifying to those who have no trust of our perfect God. Instead of trying to fit into this perverted culture as those who are enamored with the seeker sensitive or Purpose Driven paradigms with their “coolness,” we are to shine as lights in it and we can’t do that if we look just like it does. Notice also, that if we do what is right, and are separate from the world, it is as if our lives are poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and priestly service of those whom we serve.
Compare this exhortation by Paul to humble service with what we are witnessing in our time. Look at the “rock star preachers” with their skinny jeans full of holes. Their rat’s nest hair cuts. Their sloppy shirts and their sneakers. Look at their “church services” that are more of a “rock concert” event. Who is the center of attention? Is it Christ with every knee bowed because He is Lord. Is His Word the source of our Truth or are we placing the words of men and their special revelation above it? What I just described are just a few of the “evidences” I have seen in some the “seeker sensitive” elements that I have examined and I say take what they say and do and line those up with Sacred Scripture and look at their focus. Are they grabbing the attention or are they humbling themselves as drink offerings poured out on behalf of those they serve in the name of Christ?
Soli Deo Gloria!