Relationship Help for Christ Followers
17 Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. 18 For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.
Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends!
2 I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. 3 Yes, and I ask you, my true companion, help these women since they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.
Our passage today ends with a story about conflict in the church. But it is really all about conflict and the importance of establishing a positive peer group that will help us to follow Jesus Christ in all of life.
Why do we need to be around others who are a positive example? Because the world is full of negative examples, even the church typically has many because we are in process and I and you are prone to living in this world in a worldly manner!
- Pursue Positive Role Models
- What is their source of life?
- Knowing Christ, His purposes for his life and His fellowship and power.
- Trusting Christ’s righteousness. Therefore, establishing the teaching and example of Christ as his model.
- Not resting on the past, but seeing each day in the future as very important in following Jesus.
- Where is their citizenship?
- 19-20 19 Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things.20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,
Our values have to be beyond the present worldly values. We talked last week about the parables from Matthew 25. I think they are very instructive and important.
- Make sure that you are focused on the ministry of the Holy Spirit in your life:
- Use what God has given you to gain him followers.
- Serve people as you would Jesus, especially the least of them
- Are they waiting on Jesus?
v.20-21 See also Romans 12:1-2
we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.
Paul talks here about the power of Jesus to transform our bodies.
This is a very important issue.
The problems that we have in life are all related to desire. We want something and do not have it, so what comes next? Well, one option is we fight for it. This is what James mentions in James chapter 4:
4 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
4 You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God?
This pursuit of desire that sacrifices people is the way of the world. It is friendship with the world.
This passage follows James 3:
13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.
17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.
Heavenly wisdom is pure, peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere!
Peacemakers sow in peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.
Back to James 4 conflict: What is the solution?
7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
What is it that allows us to set aside what we want in order to have a peaceful resolution to an issue?
Belief in Christ’s example!
Citizenship in heaven!
Faith in Christ’s ability to transform!
- Negative Examples in our World
We have to recognize that this is our basic fundamental position and it is Christ that moves us away.
- Enemies of the Cross
Of Jesus, yes, but more importantly of the cross. The cross calls for us to die, for us to sacrifice, for us to take the initiative. In what way do we exemplify this? Definitely not following Jesus for life!
The greatest love of all is love of self? This is perhaps the most dangerous idea in all of creation! We don’t need to hate self, but if two of us view our own loves as most important, we will fight for that which we love!!
It is the Cross that teaches us that God’s power is unleashed in service, sacrifice and love. It is only the Cross that leads to the power of the Resurrection.
- Their desires are their god
Apart from Christ, why should they not be? This is a very old and foundational idea in Scripture! Why should Cain not kill Able? Lamech has several wives, they are all defined by their personal abilities and desires, greater conflict is the result. Judgment is the end of this. All civilizations in the past have come and gone. They rise and they fall.
If there is no God or if God is not expected to work in their lives, then they must struggle to compete for whatever they get. This will lead inevitably to conflict.
- Their minds are set on earthly things
They see this as all that there is. So, they are invested in personal ambition, pride, covetousness, envy etc. They are driven by the desire for pleasure, the desire for possessions and the desire for personal acclaim.
III. Conflict in the Church
- Conflict is different from disagreement
It is disagreement without submission and with resistance.
I think this is why Paul emphasizes thinking about the same thing. There is a broader principle in play than agreeing on a specific issue. It is to be considerate of one another, trust in Christ to lead others, humility about one’s own ideas and a recognition that the more important issue is not unity of thinking, but unity of love.
In any issue in a body of believers, the Elders bear the responsibility to establish a course forward and the citizens of the church bear the responsibility to submit to that path.
- Believers disagree about important issues
We really need to understand that God works in the lives of people who believe things that are different than I do.
I would call that humility. I see this personally on a regular basis. I don’t want to be forced into a point of view that I do not agree with, I should allow that grace to others as well. And the broader point is that I will trust Christ to lead you! Some issues we have to agree on. The Elders will set that course as well.
- Conflict among serious believers
Rooted in serious faith:
Working in Mexico
Humility, submission, consideration, love these all seem to get lost in ego, insecurity, selfishness, jealousy etc.