June 30 – Philippians 2:1-11
Paul is switching gears starting in chapter 2. Up until now he has opened with a greeting and updated the Philippians on how he’s been doing in prison; his reflections in 1:12-30 show he’s staying focused and encouraged despite the circumstances. Now he starts exhorting the Philippians to continue staying faithful to Christ and his Gospel, and he does so first and foremost by emphasizing unity.
Paul gives us a number of things about unity in this passage. He talks about what maintains it (humility), what kills it (selfish ambition and conceit), how to practice it (count others as more significant than yourself), and where it comes from (“have this mind…which is yours in Christ Jesus”). Then he gives us this beautiful section (v.5-11) often called the Hymn of Christ, where Paul waxes eloquent about the demonstration of humility found in Jesus’ incarnation. What we can gather here is that Jesus’ supreme example of humility creates an expectation on us. If Jesus’ time on earth was characterized by humility and service, then ours must be too. If Jesus would trade prestige for lowliness, privilege for oppression, security for suffering, plenty for want, self-sufficiency for dependency, and on and on, then our lives should be characterized by the same things. And note the goal of his efforts: Jesus did all these things to serve others and bring them to God. Similarly we do these things not to earn God’s approval or prove our Christian mettle but to serve others and help bring them to God.
Now, we could preach a whole sermon series on verses 3-4. It’s overwhelming to think about all the things out in the world and in our own hearts that compel us to count ourselves as more significant than others. These verses have something to say to each one of us, and a myriad of things to say to our social climate. While Paul isn’t specifically talking here about racial, ethnic, gender, or income divisions, this passage certainly has something to say about that. You’ll see a question below narrowing in on this topic. We’ve been hoping as a church for the past 18 months to continue to grow in diversity, and we would be remiss if we don’t address these pressing areas in our world and in our hearts.
If you need a refresher on the two times we brought in pastor Leonce Crump to talk about striving for gospel unity in the context of human diversity, or guides for further reading, check out the resources below.
Sunday, May 31 - 11:55am All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the...
Audio from Part 2 with Leonce Crump, Jr. Audio from a Q&A with Leonce and Michael Darbouze, pastor of Vintage Church Durham
TG&R: Next Steps for CGs Last week pastor Leonce Crump, Jr. spoke at our Conversation on the Gospel and Race about how Vintage, as a predominately white church, can be a more diverse church, support minorities in the public sphere, and erode the effects of racism in...
Questions for Discussion
• Can someone read Philippians 2:1-11 for us?
• What stood out to you from the passage?
• Why do you think the Philippians being “of the same mind” was so important to Paul?
• How does Jesus’ example of humility and service create expectations for our humility and service?
• Look at verses 3-4. What are some ways you know you need to grow in this area?
• Keep looking at v. 3-4. What does this mean specifically for the way we approach social divisions along race, ethnicity, gender, and income lines?
• What practical steps do you think you need to make to grow in this area of humility and service?