The Greenhouse - Called to Community
Text: Phil. 2:1-11 (March 19th, 2006)
• This morning we wrap up our Greenhouse series, yet remember that the themes we have looked at these past number of weeks together are not “come and go” themes. They are foundational and daily in our walk with God as a people and as a church. We desire to obey the Great Commandment which is to love God with all of our hearts and to love our neighbors as ourselves.
• So I think a little quiz would be timely here. Who remembers the 3 foundations to help us love God? Intimacy with Christ. Prayer. Being shaped by the Word of God. What about the 3 to help us love our neighbors? Called to love. Called to connect. This morning, we will spend some time with the 3rd one, and the fact that we are called to community - to be in this whole thing together!
• Again, let’s keep before us our model environment/ our model community: Acts 2:42ff - what that first Christian community looked like. . . “They devoted themselves . . . “. Don’t you love this church? Illust. Did you read the “Daily Bread” this morning?
• “Community” - the word even sounds good! In a basic way, a community is a “group of people living in the same locality and under the same government. Applying this to us as Christians: We are a group of believers . . . . living in the same locality, and under the government of Jesus Christ. And with Him in charge - LOOK OUT!
• Greg Ogden (The New Reformation) - “A call to Christ is simultaneously a call into community. . . There is no call to Christ without a call to the body of Christ. To be in Christ is to be in the church”.
• We’re called to live the life together, not as isolated islands in and of ourselves. We’re not here as individuals to consume religious goods and services. No, we’re called to each other! To fulfill a mission together. “We’re in this together”. (To your neighbor)
• It’s good to have a brother to walk with. A sister to talk to. Besides the work of the Holy Spirit, I probably owe a great deal of my early growth as a Christian to my good friends in the faith - Bruce and Dan. These guys not only influenced me but walked with me in the early years. Remember what happened in Cast Away? (Image of Wilson the volleyball)
• This is why Paul’s word to us this morning in Philippians is so powerful. Paul is writing the Christian community in Philippi and he writes. . . (vs.1-2). If you are “in Christ” than live it out together! “Having the same love”, being “one in spirit and in purpose”. Unity is a big part of the word “community”! Because we’re united with Christ, we experience unity in Him.
• God’s word compels us to “keep the unity of the Spirit” (Eph. 4:3) How can we?
1. Let’s not let each other bash the church. There’s a bumper sticker out there - “Lord Jesus, save me from your followers”!
2. Worship and pray together. The Spirit of Jesus will bring us together because our gospel, our message, our story is one of reconciliation!
3. Major on the majors and minor on the minors. The proverbial “don’t make a mountain our a mole hill” rings true here! So often brothers and sisters and entire churches are divided over silly and minor things. We can’t let the devil use little things to break us a part.
4. Be generous with grace, acceptance and love. Give double and triple helpings away!
• Paul goes on in Philippians - vs. 3 - “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others”. Now let’s stop right here. And some people think “man” wrote the Bible. “Man” would never write this! This is not in our nature! In fact the opposite is our nature. Naturally we are often selfish and conceited and proud. The good news is a Christian community is not called to be “natural” it is called to be “supernatural” and as such we are to do nothing out of selfish ambition and in humility “consider others”.
• The word is clear, it’s not that you can’t have your own interests, it’s just that you shouldn’t look after them alone, but also the interests of others. You must have others on your lens of life. Other people, other’s interests need to be on your radar, or beware the trap of selfishness and self-centeredness. (You know I don’t think I can teach “how to’s” on this. It just takes a sensitive, open heart. You’ve got to walk this walk with your head up and your eyes open, not simply looking after yourself, but also the interests of others)
• Then Paul ups the anti even more. (vs. 5ff) : “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus . . . (unpack vs. 6-11).
• The community created by Jesus should share his Spirit/ His attitude. Jesus emptied himself and took on the nature of a servant – a humble, sacrificial servant! Jesus Christ came, not to be served but to serve. And this also should be our attitude. The way of Christ is so opposite, so distinct, so contrary to the ways of this world. This is where the Word of God, digs in and cuts at the heart of the issue - the attitude of our heart. We’re called to serve one another in love.
• The Greek word for church - “ekklesia”, comes from the verb “to call forth”. The church is a “called out” people. We are not called together as an end in itself, but called together to go out and be ministers and servants to a broken and needy world!
• Now I want to be open with you. I’ve so far applied this passage to us as a congregation, and so it should be so applied. I can apply this easily for us here @ Bethel. As your pastor, as a fellowship, I desire us to serve one another and to experience genuine Christian community. As we do, the love and character and attitude of Christ becomes ours. But this is a lot harder to apply where it matters most: Home. This is where God is challenged me the most in this messge. We’re called to make genuine Christian communities out of our homes, to serve our spouses, our children, our guardians, whoever you live with.
• Am I a servant first with my wife and kids? When I come home am I ready to serve?
• We need to understand what it means to be a servant. To help, I want you to listen to a song by Michael Card. (Song Played)
• Day after day we must take up the basin and the towel. It’s obvious what event in the life of Christ Michael Card is referring to. . . John 13 (exegete the basin and the towel)
• Our Saviour, our God, washing our feet! Our stinky, sweaty feet! Setting us an example. What humility. What a humiliating honor that must have been. We’re called to serve one another in love and as we do, His love is actively manifested in our midst. Every act of service done in the name of Jesus can truly touch someone! All of us need broken, humble hearts that will serve. Jesus needs to give us his heart.
• Words to Graham Kendrick’s “Servant King”.
• I feel like we need to respond together this morning. To somehow dedicate ourselves once again to Christ as his servant-hearted body. (To stand together) To repent of anything He convicts you of. To be reconciled to anyone you need to be reconciled to. I’m wondering if we all need to come forward this morning and ask God to truly break our hearts with the things that break His. Lord forgive us for not serving but wanting to be served. That we would be a people who take up the basin and the towel.