FROM OUR MINISTER'S SOAPBOX
In your relationships with one another, have the same attitude of mind Christ Jesus had: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a human being, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross! Therefore, God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:5-11
Here in Paul’s letter to the Philippians the biblical story of salvation - never far below the surface of Paul's letters - rises to the top. Here we are taken from the beginning of all things to the end of all things, an account in which Jesus is central. It is this story of this one that shapes us - providing a pattern of thinking and living that is ours if we are 'in Christ'.
And at the centre of the story is the humility of God born as human child and the greater humility of accepting death on a cross, Paul's words here evoking the horror and shame associated with the public execution of criminals. And yet, it is the scandal of the cross that was central to Christ's own determination to press on to Jerusalem, showing the true nature of God's self-giving love. And it is the cross that is central to understanding what it means to be a disciple, to follow in his footsteps in serving others - his death not only bringing about redemption but providing a model for our lives.
Even then, the cross is not the end of the story, for God raised Jesus to a place of highest status and assigned him a name that reflects his vindication, with the result that all will confess him 'Lord' - Paul's language here deliberately echoing Isaiah 45:22-23, with Christ receiving the glory God says is reserved for him alone. Beyond this, the confession would have carried political overtones, perhaps especially in Philippi, a colony of the Roman empire in which emperors were proclaimed as 'Lord'. The church's worship of Jesus as Lord not only qualifies the empire's rule, but anticipates the confession that will be offered by the whole universe - the sovereignty of Christ over all things.
All of which had profound implications for the daily life of Christians in Philippi, and of Christians everywhere since, as we 'work out' our salvation, with God himself working in us 'according to his good purpose' (2:12-13), concretely applied in our relations with each other and our integrity of witness in the world, where confessing him as Lord means committing to a way of life marked by his lordship.
Lordship that is loving and giving, that meant on being raised to life instead of smiting those who rejected him he offers them and all of us eternal life. A lifetime’s adventure that begins the moment you accept Jesus as Lord and continues through all eternity!
I hope you have all accepted Jesus as Lord but if not the approach to Easter offers an excellent opportunity to consider again the offer of eternal life about which I would be delighted to talk to you!
God bless you, may you experience the peace and joy which flows from Christ Jesus crucified and risen.
If we love God most, we will love others best!
When Jesus was asked about the greatest commandment he said, “And you
shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul
and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this:
‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no other
commandment greater than these.” - – Mark 12:30-31
Sometimes loving people calls for you to go the extra mile or to sprinkling our
conversations and attitudes with grace or to forgive the seemingly
unforgiveable. It can seem hard but once we have our relationship with God
right our relationship with people will fall in line.
Many people have frozen hearts and they do not realize it. A frozen heart is
one that is unable to shed tears of compassion, forgive those who sin against
us, feel the true joy of triumph over evil, and sense the Lord’s heartbeat and
the heartbeat of others. It is more than the ability to feel emotion, it is actually
a heart change from stone to compassion.
When we live in the world of noise, torment and trauma, it is a natural flesh
response to try to numb ourselves so that we don’t feel. Children who were
abused find ways to escape and numb their feelings. Life’s traumas all take a
toll on our ability to be one with the Lord and His heart for His people. When
we come to God, He renews us taking us through a journey where He breaks
up our stony hearts and replaces them with His own heart.
“A new heart will I give you and a new spirit will I put within you, and I will take
away the stony heart out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel
And I will give them one heart [a new heart] and I will put a new spirit within
them; and I will take the stony [unnaturally hardened] heart out of their flesh,
and will give them a heart of flesh [sensitive and responsive to the touch of their
God]” Ezekiel 11:19
God will continue to work in us and through us, for our good and his Glory. "A
new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have
loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know
that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." – John 13:34-35
"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves
has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not
know God, because God is love." 1 John 4:7-8
May we all know the renewing, the healing of God and the melting of our
hearts that we might take hold of the abundant life of love that we are called