Good morning and welcome to Monday’s podcast. My name is Alan and I am really looking forward to taking you through the rest of the second chapter of the book of Philippians. Thanks go to Liam for kicking off this letter of Paul’s last week. Next week Helen will take over and take us on the next leg of the journey.
Today’s passage is Philippians 2 verses 5-11 and today’s theme is relationships.
To get us thinking I want to ask a question: who is the most important or famous person you know? Not the most important person that you can think of, but the most important or famous person that you have… made the acquaintance of, that you have been in the same room as, that you have shared the same oxygen with.
In a work place that could be a CEO, or the chancellor of a university, or the head of an NHS trust. In the celebrity world it could be a pop star, a footballer or being in Sheffield, maybe even a snooker player.
Now, how did they relate to you? Did they stop and chat? Did they acknowledge your existence? Did they pose for a selfie? Or did they look past you? Were you a face in the crowd, just one of many? Did they chat but keep looking over your shoulder or keep looking at their watch or the clock on the wall?
I’ve had a couple of positive experiences. In the summer we were in London, waiting for a train. It was late in the evening and as we arrived at our platform we came across the ex-footballer, the football pundit, and now Christmas crooner, Chris Kamara. He was happy to pose for a photo with us and he was happily chatting away to some railway staff – admittedly it got a bit awkward when we got off at the same stop as him and proceeded to follow him home.
And the other experience was with our daughter’s consultant ophthalmologist at the children’s hospital. She is a busy and important woman, she heads up a hospital department, she has a long, long list of patients and yet when we see her, every time we step into her consulting room it is as if we are the only people in the world. She gives us her full attention, answers every question, nothing is too small or insignificant to mention. She knows my daughter by name and is interested in her as a person, not simply as a diagnosis.
Philippians 2:5 says
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus
This is the introduction to a great song of the early Christian faith, you know the passage…
Who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant… he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross…
This passage tells us a lot about the nature of Jesus, how he lived and how God raised him up to the position of power and authority, the highest place… but verse 5 also makes clear that we are to have the same mindset, the same attitude, the same resulting action as Jesus.
So here are the relational characteristics that as followers of Jesus we are working into our lives:
- We do not use our status for our own advantage – just because we can doesn’t mean we should
- We are making ourselves nothing… taking the journey from top dog to runt of the litter.
- We are humbling ourselves – going from self reliance (I can do it, I don’t need your help) to asking for help from others and relying on God
- We becoming more obedient – more submissive, more trusting… so that we follow God’s call even if that means our own death, or discomfort, or inconvenience. We are learning to lean not our own understanding but on the God’s superior wisdom.
For me this is a hugely challenging list… and I know that I have a long way to go… every single day… every hour… every minute… most seconds… of my life that I am awake, my pride gets in the way. I am seemingly programmed to try and do things on my own, without help. I battle to assure myself that I am ok, that I am not worthless but have something to offer. And about being told what to do…? Most days I have to swallow hard and remember that the answer is yes of course, leave it with me.
You see, I am human too. But God doesn’t just want to add us to his book of saved souls: number five million, three hundred and thirty thousand, five hundred and seven – Alan Ward. No, we are not just numbers; he knows our names, he knows our stories, our history. He is intimately acquainted with all of our ways. And through his Son, Jesus, God has begun a beautiful work of transformation. Changing and transforming our character and our mindset to become more like Jesus.
This passage is a picture of where he is leading us and sometimes it is helpful to pause and take stock. To ask God to show us where he wants to help us to live differently, to think differently and to act differently. This isn’t about guilt, condemnation or failure, this is about life and transformation… I, personally have a long way to go… how about you?
Father, in our relationships help us to use our position for the benefit of others… in our relationships help us to serve and put others before ourselves… in our relationships help us to trust you and ask others for help… in our relationships help us to submit to others as we submit to you. Amen.
BIBLE READING: Philippians 2:5-11
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death –
even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.