Christ’s example in the Church
Philippians 2:1 – 9
Paul gives a key to unity in the Church: preach Christ until the Spirit brings unity, patches up differences, heals estrangements and make bickering and back-biting cease. Unity cannot be created; only preserved. As the original unity among a few believers in agreement is preserved others are added through the centripetal force drawing people to the central unity.
Unity is a spiritual weapon – that is why Satan fights against it. Individual opinions, tastes and different interpretations of the Scriptures as well as envy, jealousy and personal ambition cause disunity. These works of the flesh are dealt with as Christ is formed in believers through the preaching of the Word and work of the Holy Spirit.
The conditions Christ fulfilled for the sake of unity in the Church:
- Four reasons to promote unity
- Practical outworking of humility
- Self-denial or self-emptying of the Son of Man
- The form of God
- Four reasons to promote unity
- Consolation in Christ – encouragement when you implore Him
- Comfort of love – come to your aid, stimulate, give incentive, persuade with the same love that reached down to save us. His love is like a hot iron: it irons out our differences and brings unity. It smoothes things out like a well-ironed sheet.
- Fellowship of the Spirit – God’s riches that cannot be experienced by unbelievers. The Holy Spirit cannot lead and guide unbelievers into participation in God’s eternal plan. Only yielded saints can co-operate in the purpose of God. Unity of faith comes through working together under the guidance of the Holy Spirit to fulfill God’s purpose.
- Affection and mercy are graces reserved for the saints in the Church. Affection is a deep feeling of love and acceptance of one another and mercy triumphs over judgment. You feel enough for others to even act on their behalf.
Because of these reasons the Church should live in a state of harmony being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord and of one mind (the mind of Christ).
Strife causes factions and vainglory produces varied opinions because of conceit and selfish ambition. Repentance gets rid of these works of the flesh.
- Practical outworking of humility
- Lowliness of mind submits to order and does not impiously exalt itself. To the pagan mind humility means: ‘the River Nile running low’.
- Esteem each other and regard each other higher than yourself. Therefore class-distinction, wealth, race, style, position and case systems are totally anti-scriptural. The lower case Indians have to wipe their footprints out behind them with a palm leaf and they are regarded as ‘untouchables’). Begin to look for Christ in every person. Everyone succeeds in some way or another.
- Look out for the interests of others. Try to help others fulfill their dreams. Seek the welfare of others. Our Lord took on human flesh and became our substitute on the cross.
- Self denial of Christ
Our Lord could have walked this earth just as God but instead he chose to be born in a lowly stable. He could have wonderful displays of His power and command over angels, men, demons and nature all the time and put up a great performance, yet He never did anything until He was baptized in water and in the Holy Spirit to obey His Father. Instead of living like God and holding on to His treasure He let go of His rights. He let go of His rights and made Himself of no reputation. He lived like a man outwardly although He was still God inwardly.
He took upon Himself the form of a servant (a bondslave). He emptied Himself and gave His life as a ransom to save many. (Matthew 20:28) Those who believe on Him become sons of God.
He set aside His legitimate desires and prerogatives in heaven where He was worshipped by angels and elders alike, and face rejection as a man. He became a man of sorrows acquainted with grief. He only experience glory (which He had before) when His Father glorified Him on a few occasions.
He left the splendor of heaven to walk in squalor on earth. He did it for you and me.
All of us crave honor and recognition. We want to be seen and counted. Jesus shows us how to lay these natural desires aside and learn to serve others for His sake and for their benefit. Imagine a Church full of such people!
James 4:1, 2 tells us that wars come from wrong desires of greed, lust, envy and selfish ambition.
As you seek God He changes your desires to line up with His divine will for your life. Then He gives you what you ask for in Jesus’ Name and your joy shall be full. God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble.
Jesus washed the feet of His disciples at the Last Supper. This is a form of ‘kenosis’ (self-emptying) showing an act of servant hood for the benefit of others.
His humility was not a ‘put-on’ or a fake. It was real. We are human but we have a divine spark in us to motivate us. One day when Christ appears we shall ‘appear’ with Him. That dear old saint the world despises will appear in glory with His Master! Those who ruled and reigned in unrighteousness will have to bow the knee before the Master and His saints.
John clearly saw that Christ’s deity was clothed with humanity and wrote about it in every chapter of His Gospel to reveal it to us. He is the Son of God. Peter had this revelation as well. (Matthew 16:16-19) Paul realized it and wrote about it in his epistles.
- The Form of God
You say a tennis player is in top form. You really mean he gives an outward expression of his inward ability to play tennis. His body movements are coordinated in such an excellent way that he gracefully wins the match.
Our Lord was in the form of God – top form! There is no form higher than the form of God! As we allow Christ to be formed in us we obtain the form of God inwardly. We are on form when we move in God’s anointing to fulfill His great commission to go to all the nations of the world and obey His great command to love. When we win souls, heal the sick; meet the needs of saints we are in top form! When we prophesy by the anointing of the Holy Spirit and give words of knowledge and wisdom we are in top form – the form of God! Yet our inner life is hidden with God in Christ. People do not see it. People often ignore us. The expression of God’s form in our lives is the mere tip of the iceberg within us. Friends of God are ordinary people until demands are placed on them to act on God’s behalf.
Abraham was just an ordinary man until God demanded things from him: believing the impossible; a great sacrifice of his own son; leaving his own country and family behind; a battle against overwhelming odds.
Peter, James & John saw how Christ’s outward form changed in front of their eyes on the Mount of Transfiguration: His inward glory became so radiant that the appearance of His face changed. His face shone and his clothes became glistening white. That’s a foretaste of what we are going to be like when Christ who is our life shall appear. We shall be like Him in glory.
Our earthly corruptible, mortal bodies will be clothed with incorruptibility and immortality. The Spirit of God is our guarantee that we already have that life within us! It is Christ within the hope of glory. It is a joy unspeakable and full of glory and the half has never yet been told!
That is why we can confidently say: ‘though the outward man perishes yet the inward man is renewed day by day! In this body we groan and sigh because we wait for the glorious moment when we shall be transformed in His glory!
Our Lord contained the full expression of the life of God within and He did not think it robbery to be equal with God. He did not ‘steal’ the glory but had every right to it. Lucifer tried to usurp that glory and got kicked out of heaven. Yet Jesus who had every right to walk this earth as God commanding Angels to do his bidding, chose to walk as a Son of Man depended on His heavenly Father to show us how to live this life of faith. He obeyed Him 100%.
Now He offers this life to everyone that believes on Him. He came to give us life and life abundantly. It is life in the third dimension of the spirit and we learn to walk in the spirit by faith in Christ Jesus our great Example.
This life is imparted into our spirits as we gather together in Church to worship Him and to hear His Word. We are being perfected and sanctified until the full measure of the stature of Christ is seen in our midst! This is the genius of God at work!