“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, Brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me – practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:4-9
Last week I began the discussion of how we as Christians can, not just get ‘back’ to normal, but instead get ‘better’ than normal. How can we use these trying times to be strengthened in our faith and in our lives?
I have been concerned for many weeks now on how the impact of what is taking place in our world will affect our minds. We are hearing more and more of the stress and concern that is growing by prolonged lockdowns. I know I am feeling the strain. The Philippian passage is one of my favorites because in it I don’t see Paul giving mere platitudes. He isn’t saying, ‘Think good thoughts.’ But instead he is calling on believers to practice these things and the God of peace will be with you. Rejoicing in the Lord always or thinking about the list of things mentioned here is not the power of positive thinking, and it is not a denial of hardship or suffering or even a denial of loss. Instead it calls us to go through whatever it is that we need to go through day by day with the right focus and the right attitude. Remember God is in control. I need that reminder and so do you.
“So 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, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:1-11
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus. In this passage in Philippians, Paul reminds his readers that they are to serve and to consider others more significant than themselves. We have to be careful as we consider others to not flip that around to be critical of others because we don’t think they are serving us or serving others like we want them to serve. I am commanded to look out for and to serve others. I am not told to make sure that others are serving me.
In the midst of this corona-virus pandemic there has been a call to look out for and try to protect the most vulnerable among us; the elderly, those who are sick, or weak. And yes, there is inconsistency as that does not pertain in many cases to the unborn. But we as Christians in looking out for how to serve others, need to make sure that we are not dehumanizing one another.
I hope and pray in the days and weeks to come we don’t turn on each other as people around us may share a different opinion on things than we do. I hope and pray that we are willing to give the benefit of the doubt to others as we seek to serve them. And I hope that we don’t come out of this suspicious of human beings created in the image of God. Human beings are not ‘germ carriers’ but instead valuable because of their humanity. Let us pray for God to rescue those who are without Christ in this time.
“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Genesis 1:26-28