Sunday March 9, 2003 | Efrem Smith
1 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same attitude of mind Christ Jesus had:
This morning Efrem Smith preached from Philippians 2:1-5 about taking the next steps of growth in the Christian life. Efrem exhorted the congregation to step out in faith.
This morning Efrem Smith preached from Philippians 2:1-5 about taking the next steps of growth in the Christian life. Efrem exhorted the congregation to step out in faith in doing this.
When reading Philippians 2 it is important to remember that Paul was in prison when he wrote this letter. In spite of that, he called for his audience to live with joy and hope because of their experience with God’s love (v. 1). Christians must remember that though God calls them to take steps of growth these steps are incomparable to the leap God has taken toward them in Jesus Christ. This is the Good News! What are the steps that this passage calls for in response to the leap of God toward humanity?
First, a person must be like-minded with God (v.2). The temptation exists for people to try to “figure out” God through their own intellectual pursuits. Instead, Efrem challenged the congregation to allow Jesus to transform their thinking. Are people willing to allow him to renew their minds? The truth is that it is impossible for persons exhaustively to know God. This is fundamental to humanity’s understanding of God. Therefore, the call is for people to submit their thinking to Jesus and allow him to change it.
Second, a person must have the same love as God (v.2). Again, the important action is submission to God. His call is for people to give him their whole life. People’s lives are not their own when they identify with Jesus Christ. This life of love calls for a radical expression of discipleship, where even a person’s enemies become the recipients of love.
Third, the passage states that Christians must be one in spirit with God (v.2). Efrem emphasized that the context for spirit-to-spirit contact between a believer and God must include times of quiet solitude. Efrem encouraged the audience to take regular spiritual retreats that facilitate the nurture of this type of intimate relationship.
Fourth, the call is for believers to have the same purpose as God (v.2). The previous encouragement to be like-minded, to love, and to demonstrate unity in the spirit will revolutionize a person’s purpose. The basis for this transformed purpose is not on worldly things such as status, fame, money, or material possessions. Instead, it is a purpose marked by humility and unselfishness (v.3-5).
Efrem closed by encouraging the audience with the promise that, “the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7). Believers do not need to worry about this life when taking these steps because God will watch over them.