Imitation of Christ

*This is a condensed version of a recent sermon.  Sermonic elements remain.

Prior to reading our passage this morning, I ask you to glance around the room. Make sure to look eye to eye with the people around you. With that exercise out of the way, please know that as a follower of Jesus Christ you should place everyone in this room above yourself. Look around the room again if need be. Everyone. Above. Yourself.

Join me in reading Philippians 2:1~11.

 

My message this morning: Grace demands a response.

By grace you’ve been given a lot. This passage mentions:

  • Encouragement from being united with Christ
  • Comfort from the love of the Heavenly Father
  • Common sharing (fellowship) in the Spirit
  • Tenderness
  • Compassion

The passage states “if” you’ve received these things. Yet, there is no doubt involved. Paul is using a rhetorical device. The church knows without a doubt they’ve received the grace of God.

You are in this sanctuary this morning because you know what you’ve received. You might not be able to articulate it with the theological precision of the Apostle Paul ~ but you know that you’ve received the grace of God.

 Yet, this passage corrects the misguided notion that you can open your hands to grace and walk away unchanged. Grace demands a response.

What does this response look like? The life and ministry of Jesus Christ

 In light of the grace you’ve received the Apostle Paul exhorts the church:

  • Be like-minded
  • Share in the same love
  • Be in one Spirit and one mind
  • Do nothing out of selfish ambition
  • Value others above yourselves
  • Look out for the interest of others
  • Have the mindset of Christ

In fewer words … it’s not about you. Out of love for God you are to live a life of loving those around you ~ friends, family, neighbors, enemies.  This is difficult because we are selfish people. We are self-centered people. We are in a constant state of looking out for #1. This sin even rears its ugly head inside the church.

But as people who have received grace … we must be different. We must reflect the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. We must see everyone in this room above ourselves. We freely give our time, money, service, words of encouragement to others. We refrain from complaints, grumbling, division. If there is a problem, place others above yourself and fix it. Grace demands a response.

INCARNATION

This idea of looking out for others in not rooted in pop psychology or self-help mumbo jumbo. Rather, it’s rooted in the incarnation of Jesus Christ.

There is popular TV show called Undercover Boss. The premise of the show is that CEO or high-level executive will walk out of the boardroom and into the front lines. They will take off the tie and put on a uniform. The executive will go undercover within his or her own company. They will do the menial, everyday job in order to gain a better understanding of their own company. One of my favorite episodes involved one of the owners of the Chicago Cubs baseball team. This executive left his catered food in the luxury suite in order to sell hotdogs and clean bathrooms in the ballpark facilities. It’s a great concept. Yet, the executive is not in the trenches for very long. In a higher and holier way we see the incarnation. In the incarnation ~ God took on flesh.

He left the splendor and glory of Heaven.  He made himself nothing.  He humbled himself.  He became obedient to death ~ even death on a cross.

… This too demands a response.

Every knee will bow.  Every tongue confess. Jesus Christ is Lord.

Holy People of Crawford: Bow before Jesus Christ. Confess him as Lord. And then place other before yourself. Let’s pray.

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