At the end of Philippians 1, Paul wrote that the Philippians, like him, had been giving the privilege of suffering for Christ. Here, as Paul starts chapter 2, he takes a step back and brings some perspective on what it means to follow Jesus. Yes, there might be suffering – though I don’t think I myself nor very many of my peers have had to suffer anything like Paul or the Philippians yet – but there is so much benefit to following Christ. To belong to Christ is an encouragement to us: we know that whatever may happen, we have already been saved by Christ and that we have already been adopted as children of God, citizens of heaven, when we put our trust in Jesus. To know the love of Christ is great comfort: For the Philippians who were suffering at the hands of their neighbours and kin, it must have been wonderful to know that even should everyone else reject us, God still loves us. As Christians, we form the body of Christ: the Spirit within us unites us into a fellowship where we can share the encouragement, love and comfort we have received from God with each other. And, finally, to follow Christ is to have hearts and minds that are starting to be transformed into the likeness of Christ’s: full of tenderness and compassion.
Paul notes these things rhetorically – and then draws some implications from them. If we experience these benefits of Christ – as Christians should – then they should change our interactions with each other. We have fellowship together with his Spirit: surely then we should agree wholeheartedly with each other. A church full of infighting and bickering certainly doesn’t reflect the person of Christ very clearly! We know the comfort of Christ’s love: out of that we should love each other with one mind and purpose: doing the will of God and reflecting our Lord and Saviour.
Paul’s logic seems to be that if we share the benefits of Christ, we should seek to emulate Christ. His attitude of humility and love should be reflected in our lives. In fact, his humility and love far out reaches any of ours, for he gave up his divine privileges to be born as a slave. So much did Jesus love us that he humbled himself in obedience to God to the point of dying a criminals death on the cross. What is my considering a fellow human better than myself in comparison to that! If Christ was willing to do so much for us….
Of course, Jesus didn’t stay dead! As much as Jesus humbled himself, God exalted him! He now has the name which is above all other names. The humble, risen Jesus now has all authority. And every tongue shall confess his Lordship; every knee should bow before his throne – in heaven, on earth and under the earth. I need to remember how much God values the humble.
How do I emulate Christ? By following the instructions of scripture; by working hard to show the results of my salvation – obeying GOd with deep reverence and fear. How can I possibly do that? Only because GOd himself is working within me, prompting me and empowering me and changing my desires so that I want to do what God finds pleasing. Like we saw yesterday, it’s about my working hard and God working within me. I want to live a clean innocent life as a child of God. I want to shine like a bright light in this dark world. I want my life to be notably like Jesus in comparison with those around me.
Lord, help me to hold firmly to the word of life. Please, please make me more like Jesus. I’m sorry for how so often my life is ruled by my own selfish, sinful desires. Please, keep changing my desires to match yours, and give me the strength to do them. Thank you that you are at work within me. Thank you so much for all that you have done for me Jesus. Thank you, thank you, thank you.