Faithlife Sermons

"What should the Church look like?"

Philippians  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  38:59
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If I were to ask you the question today what does an apple look like, you would describe to me that it is red and somewhat round. If I were to ask you do describe to me what a banana looks like, you would say yellow or green depending on how ripe it is. There are things that we know that look a very specific way. Paul in Philippians chapter 2 starts off by describing to us how the church family should look like. In a world that is ever changing and is trying to be culturally relevant things don’t look the same way anymore. But, we do see things from God’s Word that are not changing and need to be practiced even today. Let’s check these things out!
Some of the words that stand out to us right off the bat in verse one, would be the words encouragement, comfort, fellowship, compassion and they relate to the corporate life of the church. So, this challenge that Paul shares here is not so much for the individual believers as much as it is for the church family all together. That is why I have titled this message, “What should the church look like?”
So, when it comes to getting along with other Christians, the Bible doesn't waste words. If we're going to really get along and be the church family that Christ has called us to be than we need to model the sacrifice of Christ.
Earlier Britt read 4 verses to us that we are going to go back over. This short passage is one long sentence in the Greek and we see that in verse one Paul uses the word "if" several times. If being a Christian means anything at all with it’s encouragement then we should put some things into practice and we see what this looks like in the verses that follow.
-How can we get along with others?
-How can we practice unity, when we are in a spiritual war?
How can we practice unity in an imperfect church? How can it possibly work?

1. A Church family is characterized by affection for one another!

Philippians 2:1 ESV
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy,
Paul knows that these believers have and will face difficult times of suffering which will come because of their stand for Christ, so here in verse one Paul also tells us that their encouragement or comfort is in Christ.
How many of us as Christians need to be encouraged? The church needs to be encouraged constantly. A church that stands up for godly principles and morals will constantly come under attack. Whether the subject is abortion, homosexuality, alcohol use, premarital sex or any number of issues, our cultural opinions reverse themselves again and again, proclaiming "right ideas" as if they were the waves of a sea.
The Bible says it's even possible for Christians to be tossed about on those waves of insecurity in James 1:6. That is why we need to remember that our anchor is God and His Word, and the Word of God never changes. This is our encouragement today!
So, this verse is consolation or encouragement not only from Paul, but also that all Christians in the church know from Christ’s love for them as well.
Paul takes these “if” clauses here in verse 1 and puts them together in a way that challenges the Philippians to answer a question several times.
-Hey Church is there any encouragement from Christ? You guys know the answer to this. It is yes, our encouragement is in Christ. So, go out there and encourage others. Go to them, pray for them, listen to what they are going through, and always point them to Jesus.
-Is there any comfort from Love? The Greek word for comfort here is a picture of the Lord coming close to whisper words of gentle cheer or tender counsel in a believer’s ear. Yes, comfort comes from the Lord’s love for us. Church we can comfort others by loving them and pointing them towards Christ.
-Is there any participation in the Spirit? This word participation can also refer to fellowship. “Fellowship of the Spirit” As believers in Christ we have been joined together or in partnership through eternal life by the indwelling Holy Spirit. Again, yes! We have been given an amazing gift!
-Is there any affection? Yes, of course. God has given His deep affection and compassion or sympathy to every believer. And because of this we as a church family can stand in unity and show these qualities to others.
If all of these things are happening within the church family than a church will be characterized by affection and love for one another. There will be unity even when difficult times come, and the church will continue to be a light in a dark world.

2. A Church family should be full of joy!

Philippians 2:2 ESV
complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.
Here in verse 2 we see a personal note from Paul. Over the past few weeks we have seen how Paul is able to have joy in very difficult circumstances, and he wants the church to have this same joy as well. In fact, all through this short letter we see Paul expressing joy. But here in verse 2 Paul wants the church family to complete or fulfill his joy. This joy was tied to concern for the unity of believers. So, we know here that there must have been a lack of joy for some reason. There is mention of some discord or division in chapter 4 and so this could be what Paul is talking about. What Paul is trying to convey here is that when they get rid of the division it will bring joy to Paul and other believers as well.
How easy is it for division and discord to come into the church today? Very easy. It’s interesting that when I am preaching on unity and division, I find that this is exactly where Satan has hit me the hardest this week. I can fight and bicker over the silliest of matters. I can loose my joy over things and the Devil get the victory in my life if I am not careful.
How easy can we be divided over little matters. I have seen the church be divided over chairs in the church or with music or even money issues. People can get divided over who is serving and who is not. This is why Paul wants the church to be like-minded and he is concerned about what they are thinking because he assumes that right thinking will affect right living.
Now clearly in a church our size we will not all agree on everything. Paul understood this as well. The point here church is that we can come together for one purpose and have the same priorities. This command here for the church is to be joined together in one spirit and to say the same thing.
We as believers have been given a wonderful example of what true service and joy looks like. Jesus Christ came to this earth humbly and while he was here set out to do His Fathers will. The whole time Jesus had joy because he knew he was doing what His father wanted him to do. We as a church family can look to Christ as our example and have this same mind set. Today we can let our thinking, our motivation, our feelings be directed by Christ and when they are we can have joy to serve those around us. Is there joy in your life today? Do you find that you complain, gripe, and are negative more than you are joyful? Run to the Lord today and confess that to Him. Ask that God would replace those negative things with joy. Lets choose to be joyful church.

3. A Church family must eliminate selfishness!

Philippians 2:3–4 ESV
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
People who are full of vain things tend to compete with others for glory and envy their good fortune. In Philippians 2:7 we see that Jesus emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, and was exalted by God the Father so that every tongue will acknowledge that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God.
Today more than ever we live in a land that preaches a "Look-out-for-number-1.” Take care of yourself first. It’s your right. You only live once so get what you can.
How opposite the message the church proclaims! Our greatest leaders are our greatest servants. The greatest man to ever walk the face of this earth understood what this was all about.
Mark 10:45 ESV
For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
In fact, God’s Word shows us that our key lay-leaders are called deacons. This word is the Greek word for "servants." The "diakonos" in the Greek world was the lowest servant on the social totem pole.
So, here in verses 3-4 Paul addresses a few things that can get people divided. Have you noticed how complaining and arguing so quickly divide people? A simple complaint can start an argument that will ruin a family picnic, hurt a marriage, and even cause a church to split. Enough complaining, enough arguing, can hurt Christians and even destroy churches. That's why the Bible says: Eliminate all things that have to do with selfishness. Stop the complaining and eliminate the arguing. These are the things that stink up the church house so they must be taken out with the garbage.
In Paul’s conclusion to the letter to the Philippians, Paul had to address two women who hadn't been getting along. (4:3) The private arguments of Euodia and Syntyche had such an effect on the entire church, Paul felt a need to stop his essay on joy and address it directly. He asking Euodia and Syntyche to clear up their differences. When they do, the church works better and people come to Christ.
-Church today we have to put aside our selfish interests.
-We have to stop being so conceited.
-We must count others more significant than ourselves at times and think about their interests.
-We can do this by staying humble.
Someone asked the great preacher Martyn Lloyd-Jones how to do this one time and his response was this:
“How can I be humble? This man felt that there was pride in him, and he wanted to know how to get rid of it. He seemed to think that I had some patent remedy and could tell him, Do this, or do that, and you will be humble. I said, I have no method or technique. I can’t tell you to get down of your knees and believe in prayer because I know you will soon be proud of that. There is only one way to be humble, and that is to look into the face of Jesus Christ; you cannot be anything else when you see him. That is the only way. Humility is not something you can create within yourself. You have to look to Jesus and realize who he is and what he has done for you.
Paul tells us to look to Jesus Church. Yes, there may be times where we don’t look good and we don’t say or do the right things. But, when we get our eyes off of ourselves and we look to Jesus we can be the family God desires that we be for a world that needs hope.
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