What Should a True Church Look Like?

Philippians 2:1-5

“If there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or 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,”

This is Paul’s exhortation to the church. This is a vision of what a true church should look like and how they should behave. He begins with almost rhetorical questions. It’s as if he’s saying, these are things that you claim. Are they true of you? After the questions, he turns to exhortations. If those are true, then do these things.

– “If there is any encouragement in Christ,”

Christ died for our sins to redeem us to eternal life. Do we realize and believe the encouragement for all of life’s circumstances present in this truth?

– “Any comfort from love,”

Again, Christ died for us. Do we realize that Christ not only died for the Christian body as a whole but for you and for me specifically? God loves us so much that he sent Christ to suffer and die to receive our punishment upon himself. John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” How can we not be comforted by this inconceivable love?

– “Any participation in the Spirit,”

We claim to be Christians and thus have the Holy Spirit working in our life. Is it true? Are we participating with the Spirit to pursue holiness and sanctification to further Christlikeness? Because that is what we are called to. And if we are, are we participating with one another in the Spirit as well? Are we building one another up in holiness?

– “Any affection and sympathy,”

Do we have brotherly love for one another? Are we seeking our fellow Christian’s good? Are we acting with grace and mercy towards them knowing that we require just as much, if not more, grace and mercy for our own sin?

– “Complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.”

Our mind should be Christ’s and he should be our first love. We should all have this same mind bent toward loving one another and loving Christ. We ought to be reconciled with one another and share in our primary goal of love and glorifying and praising God. There should be no strife or bitterness towards one another.

– “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”

Why are we hurt that your brother or sister was chosen for a position that we wanted? Our only goal should have been to serve the church. Praise God that the position was filled. We should not exalt ourselves or seek to get ahead. We are slaves to Christ and our only job is loving, joyful service to others. Why do we turn the church into a temple for our own worship? Our praise and reputation is not the goal of our lives and is certainly not the goal of the church. Who cares if we don’t get praised or even noticed for the service we do? God noticed and he is the only audience that matters.

– “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

How do we look after our own interests? We do not hide from them and only relent if they corner us at the coffee and donuts table. We passionately pursue our interests. They are always before our minds. In the same way, we ought not wait for need to find us. We should be sure not to hide from it, or make up excuses to get out of it. We ought to seek out the needs of the church and how we can bless her and serve her.

– “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.”

The mind that does these things is the transformed mind. It is not of our own power alone. This mind is the natural product of a person saved by faith and transformed by “participation in the Spirit”. Jesus Christ’s life of humility, love, and sacrifice is the example we are called to follow. Seek him. Love him. Saturate your minds and hearts in him. Pray for transformation.

-Jared

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