ES/PHIL/10 Philippians 2:1-4
a story from a Welsh newspaper about a church that was looking for a new pastor.
Yesterday the two opposition groups both sent ministers to the pulpit. Both spoke simultaneously, each trying to shout above the other. Both called for hymns, and the congregation sang two—each side trying to drown out the other. Then the groups began shouting at each other. Bibles were raised in anger. The Sunday morning service turned into a bedlam. Through it all, the two preachers continued to outshout each other with their sermons.
Eventually a deacon called a policeman. Two came in and began shouting for the congregation to be quiet. They advised the 40 persons in the church to return home. The rivals filed out, still arguing. Last night one of the group called a “let’s-be-friends” meeting. It broke up in argument.
a merciful heart is a sign of having received mercy
maintain unity and mutual care in the church
look out not [rather than ‘not only’] for your own rights
Believers are members of one another (Rom 12:5; Eph 4:25), who are to build up one another (1 Thess 5:11; Rom 14:19), to care for one another (1 Cor 12:25), to love one another (1 Thess 3:12; 4:9; 2 Thess 1:3; Rom 13:8), to pursue one another’s good (1 Thess 5:15), to bear with one another in love (Eph 4:2); to bear one another’s burdens (Gal 6:2); to be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another (Eph 4:32; cf. Col 3:13), to submit to one another (Eph 5:21), to be devoted to one another in love (Rom 12:10), to live in harmony with one another (Rom 12:16), and (here) to consider one another more important than themselves (Phil 2:3; cf. Rom 12:10).
A man had just arrived in Heaven, told Peter how grateful he was to be in such a glorious place, and asked Peter to give him one glimpse into Hades in order that he might appreciate his good fortune even more. This Peter did.
In Hades he saw a long table extending as far as the eye could reach, laden down with the most delicious of all varieties of foods. But everyone around the table was starving to death. When asked for an explanation, Peter said, “Everyone is required to take food from the table only with four-foot-long chopsticks. They are so long that no one can reach the food from the table to his mouth, and therefore each one is dying of starvation.”
Quickly they returned to Heaven, and behold, the new arrival saw an identical table, laden down with identical foods, but everyone around the table was happy and well fed. Then he said to Peter: “With what do they take the food from the table?” and Peter answered, “Only with four-foot-long chopsticks.” At that the new arrival inquired: “Then why are all those in Hades starving to death while all those up here are so well fed and happy?” Whereupon Peter replied: “In Heaven we feed each other.”
The joyful unity of believers in Christ offers a powerful testimony to the world that the God of love they preach is real, active, and eager to bring others into His loving family.