Be Like Christ
Transcript of the sixth sermon from the series on the book of Philippians. The sermon is titled “Be Like Christ,” and comes from Philippians 2:1-11.
You can listen here.
2 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
The first verses of chapter 2 are coming from the context of suffering for Christ. Paul just finished saying that suffering is a gift and we approach that gift with courage and unity in Christ and then verse one of chapter two.
In this context Paul makes a proposition to the Philippians by asking them to make his joy complete. He’s speaking from experience to say that even in suffering there is encouragement in Christ – He can be built up in remembering what Christ has done for him and even what Christ is going to do. He knows there’s comfort in love – Through the pain and uncertainty the love of God and of his brothers and sisters in Christ provide a tangible comfort in the harshest times. He knows that he is participating with the Holy Spirit – And this point speaks to loneliness and weakness. Even when no one is on your team and when you have no strength, the Holy Spirit is with you and fighting for you.
…How do we complete joy?
And finally he says if you love me and if you sympathize with me (which he has already referenced that they’ve proven) then make my joy complete. Notice everything that he’s about to ask them to do is about how they relate to each other as the body of Christ. He says here’s how you can complete my joy:
-no selfish ambition
-count others as better
-look out for others
The Philippians wanted to be joy completers for Paul and in the same way we should want to be joy completers for each other! What would it take for you to complete his joy? For you to complete her joy?
You know, Paul didn’t mention any tangible things on his list. There’s no steak dinners, cable packages, or perfect NCAA brackets. It’s all about loving each other well! According to Philippians 2, there’s a lot of sameness and self denial in loving well. Which, let’s talk about counter cultural. What do you mean have the same mind, the same love, (That word accord could also be conformity or unison)?
…Sameness vs. Uniqueness
Aren’t we all supposed to be different? Aren’t we all supposed to be unlike anybody else and to embrace our uniqueness?
This sameness vs. uniqueness is a healthy tension for the Christian.
On one side, God created us with unique talents and interests and tastes. We have different experiences and strengths and weaknesses. To ignore that and say we should all act and be the same would be unwise and would belittle God’s own creativity. It’s possible to make idols of tradition and conformity.
On the other hand, if we put our individuality above God’s plan for us to be a part of his church, then we make an idol of uniqueness. If, “being you” hurts others and draws attention away from Christ, then maybe you’re being the wrong you.
So here’s helpful questions to ask as we think about our individuality in context of the Kingdom:
-Is my individuality building up others and the specifically the church?
-Am I putting the Gospel above my preferences?
-Do I care more about how people perceive me or about how people perceive Christ in my life?
-Do people feel encouraged after spending time with me?
-How well did I serve the needs of the people around me?
These questions get to the heart of Paul’s completed joy. When the church has a unified Goal of Christ proclaimed and honored and a deep humility in their selves.
5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Did you know you’ve been given a mind from Jesus Christ? He gave you a gift of a mind. What is that mind? It’s a humbled mind. It’s a mind that rejects self importance and the idol of self and sees God as most important and others as second most important.
This new mind doesn’t come at the expense of self care (you can still care for yourself well without idolizing yourself). The truth is, if you’re not doing a good job caring for your mind and body, you’re not going to do a good job caring for others. Self care is still focused on others.
But Jesus gave you this humbled mind. And Paul teaches us the precedent of that mind in verses 6-8. Jesus had the greatest reason for self importance. He was / is God. Jesus was in the form of God and still not take for himself all of the rights and privileges that came with that position and existence. Not counting His Godship as something to be grasped. He didn’t use that reality for his own gain. Instead, He emptied himself and took the form of a servant. God Himself became a servant. The one who most deserves to be served lowered himself to be a servant of those who deserved the least to be served.
…Jesus is fully God and fully man.
The word “form” here can be confusing. Paul is not at all saying that Jesus was God in heaven and become something other than God on earth. He didn’t become something different or give up His Godship. He simply lowered himself. The word Form is more of an appearance word than a structure of being word. As he came born in the likeness of men and being found in human form he was taking the appearance of man. When he emptied himself, he didn’t empty himself of being God, only the appearance of God. Jesus was and will be always an equal part of the Trinity.
We know this because of the context of the rest of scripture. Just one place that teaches us that Jesus was not just a form of God but is God himself at the same time the Father and the Holy Spirit exist is John 8
56 Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” 57 So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” 58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”
Jesus is claiming He is God like He did with Moses at the burning bush. He is I Am.
If you’re a new Christian, or you’re not a Christian, or if you’ve been a Christian for a long time, the Trinity can be confusing. How can God be one and three at the same time? It’s a good question. And one our finite minds have been trying to grasp since the beginning of time. If you’ve got questions on this issue, I’d really love to have a longer conversation on the topic with you. Or hand you a book or an article.
Even if you’re somewhat confused, the main takeaway is that Jesus is fully God and fully man and he humbled himself.
So here God Himself took the form of man and verse 8: 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
God the Son who is equal and one with God the Father and God the Spirit chose to not grasp that equality and instead to make himself obedient. He made himself obedient to the will of God the Father in order to save mankind. That obedience wasn’t a small thing either.
Not only did that obedience mean leaving heaven, it meant living a difficult human life, it meant suffering an agonizing death, it meant taking on the sins of the world and their unbearable consequences. It meant suffering death.
…Jesus sets the example.
Jesus’ humbled mind sets the example for us in every way. He loved us enough to humble himself for us. His humility was a mark of love for his people. This is what Paul wants from the Philippians. This is what he wants from us. Jesus had the:
-one and same mind
-no selfish ambition
-counted others as better
-looked out for others
He was obedient even to death on a cross.
How obedient are we? Are obedient even to the point of death on a cross? Are we obedient even to the point of getting off the couch? Even to the point of not enjoying our hobbies? To the point of a dwindling bank account? Maybe saying goodbyes to old friends? Or the point of awkwardness?
What do you need to do to be obedient? What type of humility and sacrifice will that take for you?
He was obedient even to death on a cross. Jesus who calls himself I Am. Who else did God call himself I Am to? Who gave the Law? That’s a beautiful and marvelous and heartbreaking truth. The one who gave the Law, the Law Giver, is now becoming obedient. Obedience isn’t required of the Law Giver, He demands it. But what kind of law giver do we have? The one who gives us a new law. The law of love. Our King is gracious and good. He serves us even when we ought to be serving Him.
We deserved death on a cross. It was our sin that deserved a consequence. It was our punishment to take. But Jesus laid His life down on the cross for us anyway. He took our place and our punishment. It is true. He extends that sacrifice to you!
9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
If verses 5-8 describe Jesus’ humiliation, verses 9-11 describe his exaltation!
Because Jesus humbled Himself – “Therefore” – the Father has highly exalted Him and bestowed on him the name above every name! Even the name of Jesus is powerful. Even his name has value. Value seems too small a word. His name has power, and authority, and dominance.
At the name of Jesus every knee will bow. But not in just one domain, at his name creatures bow in heaven on earth and in hell. Jesus will be confessed as Lord by all men and women for all time. After Jesus returns and fully establishes his kingdom come, every soul will be submitted and surrendered to Him.
Through His humbled mind, obedience, and suffering Jesus will be lifted up high! And for this short time He’s extending to us the mercy and grace of enjoying Him forever in our surrender and our obedience. While we are here on earth, we have the option of turning to Christ! If we reject Christ it doesn’t mean we escape his lordship, it only means that we miss the eternal benefit of being called His child. Rejecting Christ on earth means being separated from Him forever, but it doesn’t mean we won’t still worship Him.
Talk about heartbreaking. Imagine an eternity of misery and suffering because we missed the true reality. Because we missed the truth of Jesus. Because we rejected his gracious sacrifice to save us.
Don’t be confused – all will worship king Jesus. Praise God he has made a way for us to worship in the joy of His presence forever! He has done it all. He paid all the cost. He’s lead the way.
It is for us to believe! Do you believe? Have you surrendered? Maybe today?
Remember the beginning, Paul’s original question was for the church to make his joy complete with their life. Do you see how he connected their lives to the Gospel? We cannot escape the connection between our call to joy and the brutal Gospel.
We’re supposed to be like Jesus in how we complete each other’s joy, we supposed to be like him in our humility, but we’re not concerned with being like him in exaltation. Because he is our pride and joy. When he’s exalted, we’re satisfied.