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Philippians  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  37:28
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Home School

Finished a month of home schooling! Parents, how y’all doing? Surviving?
Maybe I should ask the kids, how are your parents surviving? How are they doing as assistant teachers? Assistant to the teacher?
A certain kind of kid does awesome in this environment. Everyone has different learning types… Show me a book and let me study and write, Arabelle is like that.
Most of my kids do better, though, when you sit down and show them… and that’s been so hard. The teacher can only do so much via videos and Zoom meetings. Sometimes I am figuring out how to do the thing so I can show him how to do the thing.
… and that gets crazy with 5 kids in 4 different schools.
But the kids are really missing that peer interaction. That’s such a huge part of how we learn. I maybe missed it when the teacher said it, or how the teacher said it, but my buddy he understood it and can re-explain it to me. And doing it together is motivating all in itself.
I thank God for all the technology they do have that makes some of that peer connection possible. We didn’t have that when I homeschooled for a few years.
Group projects were rough, I had the worst partners. Don’t ask about my prom! Nobody asked me :(
How do I learn? How do I learn best?

Discipleship

Last week we studied Paul’s words… the “surpassing value of knowing Christ” of becoming like him… of knowing his resurrection. And how he “presses on toward the upward goal of Christ”…
There’s another word we can use to describe that journey toward Christ and Christ-likeness.
We could call it “next steps toward Christian belief, maturity and ministry.”
We could call it what Scripture often calls it. Discipleship. Disciples seek to follow their Master, to obey and learn his discipline.
In fact, let’s read that:
Philippians 3:12–14 ESV
Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
And if you disagree that that is a good thing? Well then, God will change your mind!
Philippians 3:15 ESV
Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.
Love it. God will reveal to you how wrong you are.
Don’t worry, if you disagree, God will change your mind! He is confident, absolutely confident that he is on the right track here. It is close-minded… he has a hold of the truth here and he isn’t willing to entertain anything but the truth.
What is the truth he is so sure of? That the “prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” is a prize worth pressing on for, straining for… and that he is willing to give anything in trade for that prize!
But let’s say we agree, that we agree growing to know Christ is important, growing to be like Him is desirable, entering into his resurrection, yes please!
But How Though? The starting line? To believe in Jesus as my Lord and Savior, that He lived a perfect life, died for my sins, and was raised from the dead, now seated at the right hand of the Father. That is salvation start to finish. That’s how I start.
How do I grow?
How do I be more like Jesus?
There is a category in life that I find very difficult to do.
Things that are important… but not urgent. And it is not immediately clear how to do it. It isn’t easy, it isn’t obvious how to get started.
All too often discipleship fits this nitch. It is never going to be urgent. It is unlikely anyone is showing up on my front door saying “Become more Christlike NOW!!!!”
Or “you are supposed to be 5% more Christ-like by Friday!”
(Actually, that’s a great idea, write that down. That’s your homework: be 5% more Christ-like by Friday.)
And you and I can agree that it is important. As God gives us the vision of Christ and his righteousness, our desire to grow into that grows… we see it as important.
But maybe your question is… how? How do I get to there?
We can be like the home-school kid, how do I login? How do I get the assignments, much less do the assignments?
Philippians 3:16 ESV
Only let us hold true to what we have attained.
First, and most important, we never ever let go of the gospel. We are saved by grace alone, by faith along, by Jesus alone. No amount of trying will ever “earn” us salvation. It isn’t about that. The moment you start to think that you are “earning” God’s love or “earning” salvation or “earning” righteousness… go back to the gospel you first believed!
Maturity never leaves the gospel by grace alone behind… it only enters deeper into the gospel. Deeper into the freedom of His grace, His love, His righteousness… never our own righteousness.
We want to be Christ-like, never because we can earn or deserve our salvation… but because he is life to the fullest!
But Paul is saying there is a sense of progress towards Christ, towards Christ-likeness, towards maturity and ministry. A progress that we must hold on to… we are either walking towards Christ or away from him.
How do we do that?
Well, like with home-schoolers, we can do that just me and God, me and the Scriptures, in study alone with God, in meditation and prayer, worship just me and God.
But humans weren’t meant to do this alone. We weren’t built for that, we are called to follow God, worship God, study His Word, obey His Word, become Christ-like… in community!
And Paul gives us some powerful words, some practical words on how we can go about learning this whole “Christ-like” think:
Philippians 3:17 ESV
Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.
Do it like I do it, or if I’m not there, like other people who are also doing it like I do it.
What is the other option?
There are other options than trying to be Christlike, other options than striving for the prize that is “knowing Christ, being like him, entering into his resurrection.”
This starts off sounding crazy… and then sounds all too familiar.
Philippians 3:18 ESV
For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ.
Enemies of the cross of Christ? That doesn’t sound like anyone I know… Anti-Christs.
Philippians 3:19 ESV
Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.
Their end is destruction… sounding more familiar, the Bible says wide is the path that leads to destruction...
Their “God is their belly...” What does that mean? It means they only do what their hunger drives them to do. They eat what they want. They chase after whatever it is they hunger for.
Now that’s sounding super familiar. Know anyone who is primarily driven by their earthly desires? Oh yes, just about everyone!
And what’s more, they are proud of it: “they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.”
So don’t imitate earthly minded people!
You may have heard the phrase “too heavenly minded to be any earthly good.” But Paul presents the opposite idea: “You must be heavenly minded to be any real earthly good.”
Instead, How do we do it?
Study Jesus. Do what he does. Of course. That’s what the apostles did, that’s what Paul is doing, that’s what most of this chapter is about. Fix our eyes on Jesus, do as he does.
But as human beings we find it incredibly helpful to have someone next to us explain it again. Or someone right in front of us demonstrate how to do the thing.
Find someone who looks like Jesus in some way. Do what they do.

Imitation

Philippians 3:17 ESV
Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.
Imitate. Root word: mimetes, where we get our word “mime”. Do what I do. Copy cat.
You see me doing the thing? Do it like I do. Walk like I walk.
Don’t miss the opportunity to imitate the Christ-like in your life. A good mime is a terrible thing to waste.
And not just me, maybe I’m not there right now… find another who is looking like Christ, walking like Christ “according to the example”...
Tupos. Where we get our word “type”. Example. Pattern.
My wife has been sewing, and she learned once long ago, but she’s not an expert. But she has a Sewing Pattern. And she has youtube up… doing what they do. Step by step. Pause, rewind, watch it again… do it as they are doing it. Imitation.
Now maybe that person learned by imitating someone else, that’s fine.
Doesn’t matter. By doing what they do, following the example, following the pattern, she gets the same result. An awesome mask.
How do I pray? Find someone who prays with power and authority. Someone who prays regularly and faithfully. Imitate them.
How do I study Scripture? This is one of the many reasons we are to be studying Scripture in community. So you can see people diving into the Word and learn how to do it through imitation.
How do I worship? We model that week after week. Our kids learn when they worship with us. They are so many modes and models of worship, you can enter into. Find someone with that intimacy with God as they worship… and learn. Imitate them.
We learn by imitating others
Over and over again, Paul invites people to do this. Imitate him, as he imitates Christ. Across his letters. My favorite expression of this is in 1 Corinthians.
1 Corinthians 11:1 ESV
Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.
He invites his readers to imitation.
There’s a flip side of this. The audacity of Paul to invite others to imitate him! He knows he isn’t perfect… and yet, he invites this kind of imitation.
Imitate Christ.
Imitate the Christ-like.

Be Imitable

The way we live & what we do & say influences people
That isn’t optional, by the way. It is inevitable.
We may not want to influence people, nevertheless we will—Good or bad.
This is not only something you do when you have “arrived” spiritually, this is a force that also spurs you on to maturity.
When you have invited others to watch the way you walk, what do you start doing? You start making REAL sure you are walking right.
Our “preachers-in-training” all remark on this. When they’ve been called on to teach others, to disciple others, they are driven into the Word in a whole new way, not just wanting to impress (that might be the sinful side of it, burn that with fire), but wanting to be faithful, wanting to be helpful, wanting to speak truth, and with passion and authority.
Discipleship. How do I do it?
Imitate Christ.
Imitate the Christ-like.
Be Imitable like Christ.
By word and action, show them how to meet Jesus, be like Jesus, love like Jesus. That takes confidence, not in your own worthiness but in what God has done in you. Confidence in the Holy Spirit at work in you and through you.
You have learned things about prayer and in prayer that you could and should be teaching someone else.
You have learned things about loving on others, about seeing the need and serving, loving, giving…
You haven’t reached perfection, of course you haven’t, but if you have spent more than a day following in the footsteps of Jesus, I guarantee you he has taught you something about himself… and maybe the only way I get to learn that lesson is if you teach it to me.

Invite and Include

We have long had this “method” of discipleship. Invite people into community, to events, into our lives… and include them. Include them in what we are doing, include them in our lives, include them in our family. This is fantastic.
This is also a great motto for a country club. It works. It only works as a method of discipleship if the “stuff” of our lives is discipleship.
If what we are inviting people to is the gospel at work in our lives just as much as the event we are planning.
What we are including people in is our step-by-step journey into Christian belief, maturity and ministry.
Follow me as I follow Christ.
Because, still, always, our eyes are on the prize.
Philippians 3:20–21 ESV
But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
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