I am really enjoying typing out my thoughts on Philippians! I also find that it really helps me to focus as I'm reading each passage. Instead of just reading it and moving on, I'm reflecting and trying to organize my thoughts. There is so much we can learn from God's Word. If I did this study 3 more times, I'm sure I could pick out at least that many more topics to write about! And then a year from now, I would probably see completely new things. The Bible truly is alive and powerful!
This passage is definitely one of my favorites. I am just so blown away by what Christ has done for us all. And I love the mental picture I get when I think of seeing "every knee bow" in worship of our great Savior!
In Chapter 1, Paul talked about how there were some who were preaching the gospel out of rivalry, and not out of the right motivation. He went on to say that he wants the Philippians to be "standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel" (1:27).
In Chapter 2, he tells them how they can achieve this unity in spirit: through following Christ's example of humility--
"Do nothing from rivalry of conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." (vs. 3-8)
I have always had a longing deep within me to be a part of something bigger than myself. I believe that this is something most people desire, and that God wired us to want to be part of a community. We need each other! However, too often I have allowed myself to build walls, to remain distant, to just be an "island" and not be truly unified with my brothers and sisters in Christ. The reason? Pride. Exactly the opposite of what Jesus has done. Instead of counting others more significant than myself, I have put my own needs and wants first. Because of that, when those requirements were not being met, I decided that being part of a body of believers was not worth my time and energy. I nursed my wounds and hid in the corner, playing the victim and blaming others for my loneliness. The reality is, I wasn't willing to obey God's Word in this area. I didn't want to put others first. I wanted everyone to put me first! The thing is, we can't read God's Word in order to fix everyone else. James says that it acts like a mirror, by which we can see our own reflection. It is not our job to make sure everyone else measures up, but that we ourselves are obeying and following! This is why obeying requires TRUST. Because we must do as He asks, and recognize that His way is always best, whether things turn out the way we would like or not.
Hmmm, that may have been a bit of a tangent.
Anyway, my point is, I needed an attitude adjustment (and still do, from time to time!). And on a daily basis, I need a reminder to put others before myself. To look at their interests and needs as more important as my own. How do I achieve this? This is not easy, because as humans, we are naturally very selfish. The answer? Jesus. It's always Jesus. His example is so incredible. He IS GOD. That is not something to be taken lightly! He gave up position in heaven to become a lowly human on earth. And, that kind of humility is just unthinkable...but it doesn't stop there. No, he didn't just walk the earth for a few decades, being subjected to sickness, grief, hunger, thirst, and exhaustion. It goes far, far beyond that. You see, He allowed Himself to be put to death by us. The same people who He counted as more significant than Himself. The ones who He came to rescue. We crucified Him and He still did not fight back, because His death is what would save us, and He was putting us before Himself.
So, if you are desiring to be truly connected with the body of Christ, follow His example. And in those times when it seems like you're on the outside looking in, take a look at how you're viewing others. Are you seeing their needs? Are you truly reaching out, asking people how they are doing, and praying for others on a regular basis? Are you inviting people into your home, participating in times of study and prayer? I promise you, if you are doing these things, you will be unified with other believers. It will just happen naturally. And, in the process, you will think less of yourself and more of others, just like Jesus has done when He came to live on this earth. And the next time you struggle to sacrifice yourself for others, think of all He gave up for us. It may change your perspective.