Day 17 Instructions for the Church

My absolute favorite chapter in the New Testament is Philippians 2, a chapter I discovered 20 years ago on a church retreat.  I suppose I remember it so well because that time pinpointed my salvation, so everything from that trip was memorable. What’s ironic about Paul’s instructions to the church at Philippi is that they are so applicable to today’s church–and always have been. Yet reality couldn’t be further from his directions.

Look at Philippians 2:1-4

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

What I focus on today are these phrases:

  • be like-minded
  • have the same love
  • be of one spirit and mind
  • do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit
  • value others above yourselves
  • look to others interests
Does any of this describe today’s Church? Where there are more denominations than one should really be able to count–even factions within denominations? Then, consider what Satan has done to pervert the church–what would Paul say (or Jesus for that matter) to churches supporting abortion or homosexuality? Or protecting church leaders who sexually abuse children?
It makes no sense to me that the same people who send money, supplies and people to places like Haiti, Japan, and Africa, are the same people who become embroiled in church politics–blinded to the point that their pride is all that matters.
Sometimes it’s hard to differentiate between the idea of a corporate “Church” and what really goes on Sunday. My only experience has been by working for a local church, and it opened my eyes to things the public doesn’t see. Not bad, just the business-side of things. It was a hard concept for me to reconcile.
So what to we are everyday people do with the passage? Do we wait for our leaders to take up the banner and start a movement in our churches? No, because you’ll  be waiting a long time. I believe understanding and internalizing this passage should be done primarily in small groups, because that’s where the real action is.
If a small group of 10 people began to practice Paul’s message, I believe they could radically change things inside out. The first 3 points,

  • be like-minded
  • have the same love
  • be of one spirit and mind
are all about how the people relate to each other within the group. In other words, they are all on the same page. It’s trite, if one person is out of sync, the whole group will have problems. The rest of the passage are instructions for what the people should do,
  • do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit
  • value others above yourselves
  • look to others interests
If people aren’t out to bring themselves glory, if they cared out others more, then that group would be outwardly focused–I don’t believe this means taking care of each other within the group, but instead they are focused on those outside the group–people who need help and love. Homeless people, single parents, runaways, orphans, widows, unemployed, newly saved, etc. There’s a long list.
What kind of change could that make when they show love to others who really need it?
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