The Same Things
Some Same Things
New Hope B.C.
September 24, 2006
Its funny how as Christian people, we want the same things. I don’t mean the same things that we need to sustain life. Yes, we all want fresh and clean air; we all want sunshine and rain; we all want food and shelter; we all want health and strength. Those are things that we both want and need. But, we also want other things. We pattern ourselves after the world in that we want the same houses, the same cars, the same clothes and the same jobs that the world has. We send our children to the same schools; we buy them the same clothes and allow them to learn the same morals as the world’s children.
We call things by the same words that the world uses, even though they clash with our Christian ethics; i.e., we have several words or names for fornication – we call it same sex marriage, we call it an affair, we call it a relationship, we even call it loose and just sleeping around, but we don’t dare call it fornication.
We have jumped on the band wagon and attached new meaning to old words, using the same words from old to mean totally new things, i.e., gay no longer means to be happy, straight is not always the shortest distance between two points, and even the name God can mean any number of gods that the world has gives credence to. Not to stand up openly for our beliefs is to be politically correct, but by no means do we call it compromise.
We so easily fall into sameness because we want to identify with the world; we want to be a part of the in-crowd and in the know.
That world that we spend so much time trying to emulate has no problem letting us know that we really are different. It’s us pulling after the world, trying to fit into the world, not the world pulling at us. The world doesn’t try to accommodate Christians. Rather, the world builds, creates, designs and molds its goods after its own kind, knowing that you, the Christian, will buy their wares, that you will advertise their goods. Why? Because they know that you want to be the same as them as far as the eye can see.
Even though we say we are different, we spend most of our energy trying to be the same. Except in the area where it counts most, except in our so-called times of fellowship; except when we are supposed to be in a total state of unity; except in the church. When we come into the House of the Lord, when we are gathered together, when we plan and discuss, then we want more than anything to recognize and insistent upon our individuality. It is often times only here, in the House of Unity, where we like to remember that our Creator made us in unique fashion and that we are all different. It is only here where we remind ourselves and others how different we are. Here, in the presence of God where we should find some evidence of sameness, we insist upon diversity.
I want to share with your topically this morning about Some Same Things. It would behoove you to read Philippians chapters 2, 3, and 4 in their entirety to get the full scope of our sameness.
Paul, the author of the book of Philippians, wrote the letter to the church at Philippi, one of the earliest churches to be founded in Europe. They were much attached to Paul, just as he was very fond of them. They alone, of all the churches, helped him by their contributions, which he gratefully acknowledges (Acts 20:33-35; 2 Cor. 11:7-12; 2 Thess. 3:8). It is remarkable that the Macedonian converts were, as a class, very poor (2 Cor. 8:2); and the parallel facts, their poverty and their open-handed support of the great missionary and his work, are deeply harmonious. “At the present day the missionary liberality of poor Christians is, in proportion, really greater than that of the rich" says an author named (Moule).
The church at Philippi was located in a colony of Rome. You know the saying, “home away from home”? Well, it was “Rome away from Rome”. The Philippians had sent Epaphroditus, their messenger, with contributions to meet the needs of Paul; and on his return Paul sent back with him this letter. With this precious communication Epaphroditus sets out on his homeward journey.
Epaphroditus has come bearing opposing news reports. On the one hand, the church that Paul was so fond of was thriving and eager to help him in his ministry. They had sent monies to sustain him, even though they were not a prosperous people. But on the other hand, the church was heading for trouble, its unity was hanging in the balance and there were possibly about to split because of false teachers coming in from without and disagreeing members fighting within. There was little harmony; less accord; and mass independence. The Bible does not tell us what the unrest was about, but two women were involved. Maybe both of them wanted to be President of the Mission or Church Secretary, I don’t know. But one was named Euodia, whose name means (“fragrance”) and the other Syntyche, whose name means (“fortunate”). I don’t know what the problem was, but it would seem that something had turned unfortunate and sour smelling.
Paul sends this letter back to the church by the messenger to spell out some things to them and to us today about unity, or sameness. You see, there are some things that we should strive to be the same at, and others that we are clearly different. The reason that we have such difficulty when we try to be the same as the world lies within our text. Paul says that there is a difference between unity and uniformity. True spiritual unity comes from within; it is a matter of the heart. Uniformity is the result of pressure from without. It is know wonder that Paul began his letter by appealing to the highest spiritual motives. He addresses “those who are in Christ”. If you are in Christ today, your motive should be one of unity, sameness, about the things of God.
The Same Mind:
There are three area of sameness that Paul stresses in the letter: The Same Mind (I count), The Same Standards (I press), and The Same Structure (I look).
Paul began by saying that in the church we should have the same mind. If our minds are stayed on Jesus, them our joy will remain. If our minds are stayed on Jesus, then the world and its goods can not rob us of our joy and equilibrium. Notice that Paul says to “let this mind be in you”. This is not something that just takes you over. No! You have to let this mind, let this joy, let this sameness, let this love, and let this unity be in you. It has to be on purpose and Paul says that in order to let it be on purpose, you have to know how to count. Look at what he’s saying.
One of the keys words of this letter is found in chapter 3. It is the word, count. Paul said, “I count”. Two Greek words are used here, but the jest of them means to take into account, to surmise, to ponder and consider. Paul considered his life, his accomplishments, his wins, his accolades. Paul said they were counted as loss. Not only that, but he said more than that, he counted all things, his losses, failures, his downs, and he came to the conclusion that all things would be counted a loss; as rubbish when compared to the life that awaited him in Christ Jesus.
You have to consider your life. After one of our last Presidents ended his term, a rival for the office asked “Are you better off today than you were 4 years ago?” and most people answered “yes!”. But what about it? Are you really better off being independent of the things of God? Are you really better off doing it your way? Do the houses and the clothes and the cars really make it for you? When you compare your achievements against Jesus, when you count your high points and His blessings, what do you come up with? Paul called it rubbish!
The Same Standards
Not only should we have the same mind, the same attitude towards our brothers and sisters, the same love of selflessness that Jesus had, the same attitude of servant that Jesus modeled, the same obedience to the Father, and the same humility, and humility does not mean to go around with your head hung low and always thinking of others first, it means not to think of yourself at all, not only that but we should have the same standards.
First, Paul counted. He took inventory of his life and the promises of Christ, and then he set a standard, a flag to be reached, and banner to stand under, a criterion, a yardstick or paradigm for his life. Once he set it, he then pressed towards that mark.
People, you have to take count of where you’ve been, consider where you are and then decide where you want to be and press until you get there. Press, bear down like a women in labor bringing new life into the world. Press, squash those old desires and habits until only the new emerges. Press, pursue the kingdom of heaven like there is no tomorrow.
Jesus set the mark, the goal long ago. It is the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Stop trying to imitate the world. Our home is in heaven.