Here is my meditation from tonight's service, that I wish to share with you. We have just finished up five days of Revival, and right now I am too overwhelmed to write about it. But I will be addressing the Revival within the next few days.
Emptying of Ourselves
We come many times to hear this passage, and we hear it with the confidence that all is right in our world; “for every knee shall bend…confessing Jesus Christ is Lord.” But is that really what is being said here? Is that really what Paul was meaning when he wrote to his beloved church in Philippi? He was calling the church to rejoice, but not to celebrate too soon.
Hear the first five verses again, with a different understanding. “Since there is encouragement in Christ, since there already is consolation from love, since there is already sharing in the Spirit, with compassion and sympathy, MAKE MY JOY COMPLETE: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than your selves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interest of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus.” The church then, and NOW, is to MAKE Paul’s Joy complete: everything we do, we do it with the understanding that it is to help others. All that we do, all that we love, all that we are about, is in the humility of keeping the others in our minds.
But the passage is not just to make us a door mat for everybody to step on. Usually when we do that, we become resentful of others, even those whom we are called to serve. Think back to your worst job that you may have had in your life. Cleaning out the honey buckets? Washing the floors over and over again because of all the mud that was tracked in? What about back breaking work, in extreme weather, either the cold or heat? I can think of several jobs that I truly disliked, and even hated. But I think the worst job I ever had was while I was in High School; I was picked up by my “boss” along with 6-8 other teens, and we were dropped off in different neighborhoods to sell magazines door to door. Of course, our pay was on commission, so if we did not sell anything, we did not make any money beyond the minimum wage we were paid. As it turned out, we started after school, between 4 and 5 PM and worked until about 9 PM. By the time we got home, it was late, and there was still homework to be done. In two of my classes my grades dropped from an “A” and “B” to “D’s” in both classes. My mother promptly made me quit my job. I hated it and am lousy at selling door to door. I had to “sell” myself in order to sell the magazines, which is probably why I did not sell too many.
But as we think of our worst jobs, Paul is calling us to be of the mind of Christ, to be able to serve one another with joy in our hearts, and helping others. The only people I helped in selling door to door were my employers, has they still made money on me. Our work should not be about the money, it should be about the Glory of God, and how we are fulfilling the work of God by our employment, our work, our volunteer positions, and our very selves.
Look at your life, what you do. Are you serving God in such a way as to bring Glory to God? Do we serve others with a song in our hearts and souls? Are we of the same mind as Christ in our compassion, sympathy, love and encouragement that we do it freely, without resentment and anger? Even if we answer “no” to the above questions, hopefully it will lead us into the ancient hymn that Paul quotes to finish out this passage:
“Who, though he was in the form
did not regard equality with
as something to be exploited,
but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
he humbled himself
and became obedient
to the point of death—even death on a cross.
God also highly exalted him
and gave him the name
that is above every name,
so that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
in heaven and on earth
and under the earth,
and every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.”
Peace and blessings