JohnSWilson3 Blog


“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus”
May 8, 2010, 3:20 pm
Filed under: M Letter to Philippians

It has taken me some time to really process what I have been reading in the second chapter of Paul’s letter to the Christians in Philippi. It seems I walk onto holy ground as I attempt to delve into this incredible passage. Of course in the back of my mind is Colossians, Ephesians and Hebrews, which I will come to later, and so I guess with every letter Paul writes we seem to move more and more into the mystery of Christ.

I enjoy reading the NIV and NASB bibles but I have use Gordon D. Fee’s translation (1) of verses 1-4 of the second chapter as it seems to me to best describe what Paul is trying to get at in this section. Sometimes the translations miss the simple and main points of what is expressed by including additional adjectives, etc to better describe what is being said. While I think this is helpful, in this case I think it can obscure Paul’s intent here.

Fee translates these verses as:

“Therefore if any encouragement in Christ, if any solace of love, if any sharing (fellowship) of Spirit, if any compassions and mercies, fulfill my joy so that you set your minds on the same thing having the same love, united in soul setting your minds on the one thing, nothing according to selfish ambition, nothing according to empty conceit, but with humility considering one another more important than oneself, each not looking out for one’s own concerns but also for others’ concerns.”

Paul had just previously written that “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.” We are all tempted to become victim to our flesh and Satan’s devices. Satan wants nothing more than to neutralize Christ’s life from being expressed through us. We will suffer, Christ said so. Suffering doesn’t happen once and it’s done. The rain falls on us who believe and those who do not. We should expect trials and tribulations and not let them be the means of Satan to discourage and depress us but means of the Lord to “stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you.” We must press on! This is not our home, we have a salvation, Christ Himself who waits for us. “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” We are to “continue” to “progress” in our life with Christ while we are here. It seems suffering is God’s principal of moving us in this direction.

Is it any wonder that Paul, whenever he brings us this struggle, this “contending as one man” his focus is not on each individual Christian but on His body, the church. Paul says that “whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” So again Paul sandwiches his thoughts on suffering with this section of chapter 2. “Therefore if any encouragement in Christ, if any solace of love, if any sharing (fellowship) of Spirit, if any compassions and mercies, fulfill my joy so that you set your minds on the same thing having the same love, united in soul setting your minds on the one thing, nothing according to selfish ambition, nothing according to empty conceit, but with humility considering one another more important than oneself, each not looking out for one’s own concerns but also for others’ concerns.” The body of Christ truly must live a shared life together for this attitude, this life with Christ to make a difference in conducting ourselves “in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” Once a week “meetings” is not something in Paul’s mind here. Paul never considered that being “Christian.” Being Christian was living Christ’s life through one another daily. No wonder there are so many shallow Christians in this world, me being one of them. How I/we need this kind of body life with Christ!

Paul uses rhetorical questioning to emphasize his point that in the body of Christ, when we live by His life through His Spirit we will be encouraged in Christ, we will have solace of love, we will have sharing (fellowship) of Spirit, and we will have compassions and mercies towards one another. Is this our experience? Is this my experience? When we come together is it about meeting in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ or in meeting our needs or expressing our opinions? We should find encouragement, solace, fellowship, compassions and mercies because of being in Christ, loving relationships, living by the Spirit, with an attitude of humility! Wow, what a time in the Lord that would look like, that would bring joy to anyone! When Christ is in view, His Lordship, Headship, and complete control, no one claiming position or authority over any one else, that is setting our “minds on the same thing,” that is “having the same love,” which will bring a unity of the body of Christ because of being “united in soul” of “setting your minds on the one thing.” This is the one thing Jesus had in mind. When we know Christ so well by this life together we will do “nothing according to selfish ambition, nothing according to empty conceit, but with humility considering one another more important than oneself, each not looking out for one’s own concerns but also for others’ concerns.” Not only is there joy in our lives, but can you not see that this brings joy to Jesus? How often my joy as a teacher is removed when I have disobedient or defiant students in my classroom. Please pray for me and for all teachers! Let’s bring joy to Jesus!

No wonder as Paul describes this kind of life that he now gives the reason for it. Our life in Christ as a body should look like His life He showed us when He was here! Jesus, very God, waiting for the right time, came out of eternity to bring us back to Himself. But He had to pay a terrible price! That price is a reflection of the life of the body! “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.”

This section of chapter 2 is so wonderful! Most see this as a poem. Many see this as an early Christian hymn. In either case it succinctly describes the humility and exaltation of Jesus, the Messiah, the Christ. I like the ISV version (2) of this since they make an attempt at putting the literal words into a form of a poem that rhymes. If anyone can put it to music that would be awesome!

“In God’s own form existed he,
And shared with God equality,
Deemed nothing needed grasping.
Instead, poured out in emptiness,
A servant’s form did he possess,
A mortal man becoming.
In human form he chose to be,
And lived in all humility,
Death on a cross obeying.
Now lifted up by God to heaven,
A name above all others given,
This matchless name possessing.
And so, when Jesus’ name is called,
The knees of everyone will fall,
Where’ er they are residing.
Then every tongue in one accord,
Will say that Jesus Christ is Lord,
While God the Father praising.”

Nothing can match the wonder of these few verses! God desires fellowship with us! He so desires this intimate relationship, just like a man crazy in love towards a woman, He leaves everything for her. He is so in love with this woman, His Bride, He is willing to die for her! God is made up of Three Persons of the Trinity, the Godhead as some describe Him. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and in perfect mutual love within the Godhead he decided to extend that love to others who would love Him in return, therefore God created the heavens and the earth. It is for the church that God created! But because of sin, we were marred and since the beginning He has been wooing us back to Himself. In His infinite wisdom He decided to leave everything so that He could win back His first love! While Jesus is very God, He at the same time is very man and became for us the means to take away our sin completely and to restore us into perfect loving mutual fellowship with Himself. Amen! Frank Viola takes great thought of this in his excellent book: From Eternity to Here. Get a copy!

This perfect loving mutual fellowship with the Lord can only happen when “Jesus Christ is Lord”! When He is the Head and in full control of His Body then life in Christ brings glory to God! Again Paul’s point goes back to his earlier prayer “that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be sincere and unoffending until of the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God.” We cannot try to bring praise to God on our own, that is being selfish, it must be in Christ, it is having Christ as Lord in us and the body enabling us to love one another deeply from the heart, it is through His body! It is only in this kind of shared life that we will “stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those whom oppose you.”

“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.” As Paul says “fulfill my joy so that you set your minds on the same thing having the same love, united in soul setting your minds on the one thing.” This attitude is “the same thing,” “the same love,” “the one thing.” “Jesus Christ is Lord”!

Jesus described our relationship together like this and think it reflects Paul’s poem: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Jesus said this after he had just washed the feet of Judas Iscariot, His betrayer. Jesus knew Judas would betray Him. Could we do like wise? No we can’t except that Jesus Christ is Lord!

Let us pursue Christ with our entire being!

(1) Gordon D. Fee, Paul’s Letter to the Philippians, The New International Commentary of the New Testament, 1995, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 176.
(2) The Holy Bible: International Standard Version, New Testament, Preview Release Edition, 1998, Davidson Press.

Advertisements

Leave a Comment so far
Leave a comment



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s



%d bloggers like this: