Faithlife
Faithlife

Just Look to the Cross and Choose to be Christlike

Together: A Study through Philippians  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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In his book The Fine Art of Friendship, Ted Engstrom wrote of a very special husband and wife whose relationship marvelously illustrates the selfless love of . The husband was paralyzed. Engstrom includes a letter the husband wrote to his unborn child:
In his book The Fine Art of Friendship, Ted Engstrom wrote of a very special husband and wife whose relationship marvelously illustrates the selfless love of . The husband was paralyzed. Engstrom includes a letter the husband wrote to his unborn child:
In his book The Fine Art of Friendship, Ted Engstrom wrote of a very special husband and wife whose relationship marvelously illustrates the selfless love of . The husband was paralyzed. Engstrom includes a letter the husband wrote to his unborn child:
Your mother is very special. Few men know what it’s like to receive appreciation for taking their wives out to dinner when it entails what it does for us. It means that she has to dress me, shave me, brush my teeth, comb my hair, wheel me out of the house and down the steps, open the garage, put me in the car, take the pedals off the chair, stand me up, sit me in the seat of the car, twist me around so that I’m comfortable, fold the wheelchair, put it in the car, go around to the other side of the car, start it up, back it out, get out of the car, pull the garage door down, get back into the car, and drive off to the restaurant. Then, it starts all over again; she gets out of the car, unfolds the wheelchair, opens the door, spins me around, stands me up, seats me in the wheelchair, pushes the pedals out, closes and locks the car, wheels me into the restaurant, then takes the pedals off the wheelchair so I won’t be uncomfortable. We sit down to have dinner, and she feeds me throughout the entire meal. When it’s over, she pays the bill, pushes the wheelchair out to the car again, and reverses the same routine. When it’s all over—finished—with real warmth she’ll say, “Honey, thank you for taking me out to dinner.” I never quite know what to say (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1985, 103–4).
Your mother is very special. Few men know what it’s like to receive appreciation for taking their wives out to dinner when it entails what it does for us. It means that she has to dress me, shave me, brush my teeth, comb my hair, wheel me out of the house and down the steps, open the garage, put me in the car, take the pedals off the chair, stand me up, sit me in the seat of the car, twist me around so that I’m comfortable, fold the wheelchair, put it in the car, go around to the other side of the car, start it up, back it out, get out of the car, pull the garage door down, get back into the car, and drive off to the restaurant. Then, it starts all over again; she gets out of the car, unfolds the wheelchair, opens the door, spins me around, stands me up, seats me in the wheelchair, pushes the pedals out, closes and locks the car, wheels me into the restaurant, then takes the pedals off the wheelchair so I won’t be uncomfortable. We sit down to have dinner, and she feeds me throughout the entire meal. When it’s over, she pays the bill, pushes the wheelchair out to the car again, and reverses the same routine. When it’s all over—finished—with real warmth she’ll say, “Honey, thank you for taking me out to dinner.” I never quite know what to say (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1985, 103–4).
Selfless, humble attitudes and acts of love! When you receive them, like this man, your heart overflows. Words cannot express your gratitude. Yes, as is taught in , people who love unselfishly spread joy and promote unity.
Selfless, humble attitudes and acts of love! When you receive them, like this man, your heart overflows. Words cannot express your gratitude. Yes, as is taught in , people who love unselfishly spread joy and promote unity.
Anders, M. (1999). Galatians-Colossians (Vol. 8, pp. 231–232). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
Paul writes in his letter about the greatest example of Humility seen through selfless love.
Philippians 2:5–11 CSB
5 Adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus, 6 who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be exploited. 7 Instead he emptied himself by assuming the form of a servant, taking on the likeness of humanity. And when he had come as a man, 8 he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death— even to death on a cross. 9 For this reason God highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow— in heaven and on earth and under the earth— 11 and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
What we have here is possibly the greatest Christological passage in the NT. From Paul we gain a deeper knowledge of our Doctrine of Christ.
In this Hymn of the early church, Paul paints a picture of humility for us. He ushers us upwards to heaven and backwards before time began revealing the harmonious relationship of God the Father and God the Son within the Trinity; then Paul swiftly moves us down to earth where God stepped into Time and space choosing to ignore his own personal interests and privileges and choosing to provide the solution to our problem of sin; finally Paul, establishing the present and revealing the future, carries us back into heaven when Time comes to and end. What a masterful piece of writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
What we find at the center of this literary picture is the cross. D. A. Carson says there are 5 perspectives of the cross: God’s - seeing Jesus as our substitute sacrifice for sin; Christ’s - seeing it as the ultimate surrender of His will to the Father’s in perfect obedience; Satan’s - seeing it as the weapon which defeats him; sin’s - the place of payment by Jesus for our debt; and Our’s - seeing it as the Supreme standard of conduct by which we must choose to live and will be judged by God, which is the primary point of Paul and his purpose in writing it.
As Paul insists upon unity in the church, he points to the cross to show us the perfect example of humility for the purpose of unity. The Trinity is our Supreme example of Unity in the Church. The accomplishment of God the Father’s will, our redemption and forgiveness, was dependent upon God the Son’s willingness to put preference, position and privilege aside for our good. Your salvation is not possible without unity.
As Paul insist upon unity he paints the picture of the cross. When we would say, “Christian unity is not possible with those people, you just don’t understand,” Paul would point us to the picture to say, “yes it is, but you just don’t see it yet because it is a matter of our emotions, our mind, and our will. To have Christian unity you must feel what Jesus felt, you must think what Jesus thought, and you must do what Jesus did.”
Anders, M. (1999). Galatians-Colossians (Vol. 8, pp. 231–232). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
Through the inspiration of Holy Spirit, it is Jesus’ message to you and to me saying, “Here is what I expect of you in the church because here is what I did for you in the church.”

Our Unity will happen through our Christlike Affections.

Jesus is our example for our application of verse 4.
Jesus is our example for our application of verse 4.

One night a two-month-old baby kept his mother and father awake with his fussing and crying. The father was at wit’s end and had lost all patience. The mother, though, in her deep maternal love, picked up her son and, cuddling him, said, “That’s all right. I’m sorry you don’t feel better!” What an object lesson in self-giving love.

A young lady walked into a fabric shop, went to the counter, and asked the owner for some noisy, rustling, white material. The owner found two such bolts of fabric but was rather puzzled at the young lady’s motives. Why would anyone want several yards of noisy material? Finally the owner’s curiosity got the best of him and he asked the young lady why she particularly wanted noisy cloth.

She answered: “You see, I am making a wedding gown, and my fiancé is blind. When I walk down the aisle, I want him to know when I’ve arrived at the altar, so he won’t be embarrassed.”

Such love the young woman had for her man!

When we develop a spiritual sensitivity for others and put aside our self concern of comfort and self concern of rights and privilege, then unity supernaturally happens.
When we develop a spiritual sensitivity for others and put aside our concern for self then unity supernaturally happens.

Our Unity will Happen through Our Christlike Attitudes.

I love the word used in the CSB translation of verse 5 - “Adopt”
A humble concern or a humble affection is the daily practice of a Christian making a choice for the good of others. That daily choice, over time develops a perfectly submissive attitude, the attitude of Christ before and after the incarnation.
vs. 6-8 - Proof of Jesus being the God-Man.
v. 6 - some of the strongest proofs of the Deity of Jesus and proof of the pre-existence of Jesus.
“to be” - reveals that Jesus has always been equal. Jesus was, is and will always be God. Jesus was, is and always will be Holy, all-powerful, all-knowing and Absolutely Supreme.
“grasped” - the verb in the Greek has an active meaning and a passive meaning.
Active would imply that Jesus didn’t have equality but wanted to take by force, which Lucifer attempted to do. Eve reaches up to grasped the fruit of the tree seeking equality with God in Knowledge of Good and Evil.
Passive is the tense of the verb Paul uses here showing that he already held equality
Father and Son and Spirit - Share the Same Divine nature.
Jesus had full prerogative. All the privileges of heaven. The position of heaven. The prestige of heaven. All were Jesus’ to have and Keep as God the Son, but they all did not have a hold on Him or he on them. He made a choice for our good, our salvation, because his merciful and gracious concern for us matter more to him than some position or privilege.
To be a healthy church and pleasing to God, we must have the same mentality around our Common Mission.
But, thought not put into action is but a dream.

Our Unity Will Happen through Our Christlike Actions.

“consider” - this points to the moment in eternity when Jesus chose to set aside his rights as God. It was a conscious decision. This word also points us to the moment in time where he put thought into action, laying aside the privilege of being served by angels and choosing to come and serve humanity as Savior.
“consider” - this points to the moment in eternity and time when
“emptied himself” - this points us to that moment described in the historical event of the immaculate conception - He as God entering the body of Mary the virgin through the overshadowing of the HS, where he became the God-Man, baby Jesus.
He is our example of Humility because of this voluntary action. Who can humble God? He didn’t stop being God either, because God cannot become less than what He is. He does not change.
This divesting of prerogative and positions and power is not an action we as American citizens take easily. The reason why Paul declares we are citizens of heaven, and this is what the King of Heaven did.
God honored and exalted Jesus because of His humble affections, because of His humble attitude and because of His humble actions.
Through the inspiration of Holy Spirit through Paul, this is Jesus’ message to you and to me saying, “Here is what I expect of you in the church because here is what I did for you in the church.”
Conclusion: What positions, possessions, privileges or preferences are you holding onto?
What if every church member emptied themselves like Christ for the good of the church? How do you think our church would be?
Your salvation is not possible without unity, and the church’s survival is not possible without unity, each of us living out the example of Jesus.
Many have made a decision not to seek unity, many because they said it was not possible.
When we would say, “Christian unity is not possible with those people, you just don’t understand,” Paul would point us in the direction of the cross to say, “yes it is, but you just don’t see it yet because it is a matter of our emotions, our mind, and our will. To have Christian unity you must feel what Jesus felt, you must think what Jesus thought, and you must do what Jesus did.”

Time of Decision and Call to Prayer

If you will make church all about Jesus, God works out the rest. Make church all about others before self and unity happens. What do you need to do today for the sake of unity?
If you will make church all about Jesus, God works out the rest. Make church all about others before self and unity happens. What do you need to do today for the sake of unity?
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