Having the Attitude of Christ
I’d like to begin my sermon today by reading another passage from a Psalm we read recently in our family devotions...
[ Awake! Why are you sleeping, O Lord?
Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever!
24 Why do you hide your face?
Why do you forget our affliction and oppression?
25 For our soul is bowed down to the dust;
our belly clings to the ground.
26 Rise up; come to our help!
Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love!]
2. I heard one Wallace youth recently comment that “David whines too much.” I wonder how many of us have been whining this week to God. Complaining to God is not a bad thing. It is entirely biblical but...
3. ...Attitude is everything- David’s posture is not mere complaint for the sake of venting frustrations but rather looking to God for help, looking to God as His Savior, looking to God with a heart of...
4. ...Humility and Dependence
Turn to your outline for a general feel for how this passage develops (Having the attitude of Christ  in our relationships with others,  in our relationship with God,  for the glory of God.
B. Having the attitude of Christ in our relationships with one another  …Humility
1. Background info on the Phil church
a. Paul planted church with Silas ()
b. Paul wrote the letter to Phil in a Roman prison
c. Phil was an important city in the province of Macedonia
d. Nationalism and patriotism were highly valued
2. Center of gravity of the letter to Phil is this passage
a. Scholars debate but most believe vv 6-11 to be an ancient Christological hymn to beautifully and poetically tells the story of who Christ, his nature, his character and his work in a brilliantly succinct poetic structure.
b. It makes little difference who is right in that debate, the facts still remain that this is God’s word
c. Verse 5 is included in our reading today because of how it helps to introduce us to an important theme of this passage. The Greek is quite tricky and again scholars debate on how to translate it. I believe the best translation comes from a notable scholar in his commentary on the Greek and it reads “adopt toward one another in your mutual relations, that same attitude that was found in Christ Jesus.” It makes sense of the previous two verses and is consistent with the flow of the passage.
3. WSC Q. 27. Wherein did Christ's humiliation consist?
Q. 27. Wherein did Christ's humiliation consist?
A. Christ's humiliation consisted in his being born, and that in a low condition, made under the law, undergoing the miseries of this life, the wrath of God, and the cursed death of the cross; in being buried, and continuing under the power of death for a time.
4. As we celebrate Palm Sunday this passage from Phil beautifully shows us the humility of Christ as he enters Jerusalem, knowing the horror he faces, riding on a young donkey, humbly. Christ had at his disposal the means by which to literally “mop up” his feeble enemies whether Jewish or Roman yet he comes into Jerusalem, not on a war horse, but on a donkey. This day we celebrate the exact thing that tell us. We celebrate the humble obedience of Christ that led him to the events of Good Friday.
5. How do we show forth this humility in our relationships with one another in the body? A few years ago I was accused by one of my missionary co-workers of abusing my “power” as a leader. The leadership of our organization investigated and concluded the accusations had no foundation. While I was grateful for the support of my leadership, I was left with a lot of anger and hurt. A few weeks ago someone mentioned this persons name in conversation and I immediately felt this visceral reaction which led me to conclude I still was not over the pain and anger.
When we experience conflict there is a vey natural, subtle but insidious tendency to treat those with whom we are in conflict as somehow less than human, meaning less than made in the image of God. We can do this with individuals, groups of individuals and even entire nations. Having the mind of Christ in our relationship with others leads us to maintain the dignity of the other even when we are experiencing conflict with them and is one of the first steps in restoring a broken relationship.
C. Having the attitude of Christ in our relationship with God - Powerlessness and Obedience
Privilege and Power- hotly debated words with political overtones ; let take a step back from the toxic nature of the current discussions around these words and look at scripture; let’s look at Jesus. Webster defines privilege as “a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group.” If ever there was someone who could exempt himself from the sufferings of this life brought upon mankind because of sin it would have been Jesus. He did the exact opposite of what elite Hollywood stars did for their children, namely using privilege to gain advantages they don’t deserve. Jesus Christ, instead uses his privilege to disadvantage himself which he also did not deserve. He didn’t deserve this life of sorrow, we do. He didn’t deserve this life of pain, we do. He didn’t deserve this life of sickness and suffering. We do. God the Father and God the Son were pleased to demonstrate God’s grace in this magnanimous way.
Verse 6-7 describe Jesus emptying himself which only makes sense if we think about privilege. These verses have generated heretical views that obscure Christ’s human and divine nature and twist the word kenosis (no, that is not a new diet) and One evangelical commentator (Frank Thielman, NIVAC) says it this way in his commentary on this passage:
[The incarnation of Christ Jesus represents the antithesis of this human drive to dominate. Although he had access to all the privilege and power to which his identity with God entitled him, and although he could have exploited that privilege and power to dominate his creatures, Jesus considered his deity an opportunity for service and obedience. His deity became a matter not of getting but of giving, not of being served but of serving, not of dominance but of obedience. The difficult part of all this for the twentieth-century believer is that Paul did not leave his description of Christ’s astounding refusal to dominate in the realm of abstract speculation. Instead, he advised the church at Philippi, and through them the church of today, to follow Christ’s example. This means that the church and the believer must adopt an “incarnational” demeanor.
Yet this is extremely difficult to do in modern Western societies. Great, even ultimate, value in these societies is often attached to wealth, glamour, power, and prestige, and the accepted ways of achieving these ends often involve dominance over others.]
Long before political rhetoric or critical theory coopted words like privilege and power, Jesus was showing his church how it should be done. Have we learned this lesson?
3. Because I think the answer to my question is obvious we need to see the connection between Jesus’ attitude toward God the Father and how he treats others. Christ embraced a posture of disadvantaged powerlessness. Not helplessness but powerlessness There is a big difference. Christ HAD the power but he “emptied himself” of it in the sense that he neither made use of it to excuse or exempt himself from the divine calling of redeeming his people through the cross and resurrection.
He didn’t blame his Roman accusers or Jewish leaders for his lot. On the other hand he did call out the religious leaders for their arrogance and lack of willingness to embrace God’s incarnate son who was standing right before their eyes.
4. It was only with this posture of emptying himself, giving up his privilege, laying aside power to vindicate himself and intentionally disadvantaging himself, that his posture could be turned into action, the action of obedience leading to him dying on the cross.
becoming obedient to the point of death, weven death on a cross
The passage reads in v 8 [becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross]. He chose to obey, laying down his life and being killed in the most humiliating way. Death on a cross.
D. Having this attitude of Christ in our relationships with others, with God, for the glory of God  God get the glory
1. Christ did what he did for the glory of the Father. He sought the glory not of himself but of his Father which, in the end, is a glory that is shared with the Son and the Holy Spirit.
2. So here’s a simple question. What is man’s chief end? WSC Q1. The answer? Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. All of this is wrapped up in the entire purpose of our lives. The gospel tells us that we don’t merely study and imitate Christ’s example of humility, laying aside privilege and power, and being obedient. While he certainly is an example we are called to imitate, he is much more. The gospel says that we are called to utter to dependence to the point of allowing our very identity to be found first and foremost in Christ.
3. So here’s a question for you and me? Are you enjoying God? John Piper’s interpretation which I agree with is that we glorify God, by enjoying him. So are we enjoying him? If so, great! Keep it up, don’t get cocky, keep on depending on him. But if the answer is no, then I would like to probe a bit more and ask you why? Why aren’t you, why aren’t I, enjoying Him? Think about that for 5 seconds.
4. Maybe your response is “how can I enjoy God under the current set of circumstances? We can’t meet to face-to-face to worship, the economy is being threatened, my job is either lost or at risk, shelter-in-place has become another word for torture, loved ones may be sick or at risk of getting the virus and nobody knows when this will all end.” Uncertainty pervades everything we do. No doubt those are real struggles that many of us feel but suffering and enjoying God are not antithetical. In the midst of this uncertainty and struggling, God calls us to enjoy him which will in turn lead to glorifying him.
5. So I’d like to propose three things that we can do to help us enjoy God during this crisis.
a. Confess our sins- engage in prayer, fast if it is’t a health risk and confess to the Lord your sins. I’ve shared this simple alliteration with some of you at Wallace and folks have told me it’s help. Confess your sins using the Five A’s (Arrogance, Ambition, Anxiety, Adultery, Anger)
b. Outreach- Simple ways you can observe social distancing but still do outreach [story of Paul Peng]
c. Perspective- A little bit of perspective can help us understand our current predicament.
A one year epidemic struck London in 1665. This plague was the last of a series of plagues known as the bubonic plague to occur in England, the origin of which began in China in 1331, traveled through the Silk Road to Crimea and then to Europe. It was believed to be caused by a flea bite. The flea infested black rats which then traveled on merchant ships from Asia to Europe. The well-known puritan pastor Richard Baxter penned these words as he reflected on the events of the Great Plague of 1665 in London.
This plague was the last of a series of plagues known as the bubonic plague to occur in England, the origin of which began in China in 1331, traveled through the Silk Road to Crimea and then to Europe. It was believed to be caused by a flea that lived off of black rats and then traveled on merchant ships.
[It is scarce possible for people that live in a time of health and security, to apprehend the dreadfulness of that pestilence! How fearful people were, thirty or forty, if not even a(n) hundred miles from London, of anything they brought from any Mercer’s, or Draper’s Shop; or of any goods that were brought to them or of any person that came to their house. How they would shut their doors against their friends and if a man passed over the fields how one would avoid another as we did in the time of wars and how every man was a terror to another! Oh how sinfully unthankful are we for our quiet societies, habitations and health!
Not far from the place where I sojourn, at Mrs. Fleetwood’s, three ministers of extraordinary worth were together in one house, Mr. Clarkson, Mr. Sam Craddock, and Mr. Terry, men of singular judgment, piety, and moderation; and the plague came into the house where they were, one person dying of it, which caused many (that they knew not of) Earnestly to pray for their deliverance; and it pleased God that no other person died.
But one great benefit the plague brought to the city, that is, it occasioned the silenced ministers more openly and laboriously to preach the gospel, To the exceeding comfort and profit of the people; in so much, that to this day the freedom of preaching, which is occasion, cannot, by the daily guards of soldiers, nor by the imprisonment of a multitude, be restrained. ]