Monday, July 13, 2015

God on a Cross

A communion sermon

Text: Philippians 2:1-8

You can listen to this sermon here.



And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (v. 8).


Feeling "Humbled"

Last year, Lebron James was named the National Basketball Association’s MVP. It was the fourth time James had received the league’s highest honor. What was his response? He said, “It’s very humbling.” Humbling? I don’t think “humility” means what Lebron James thinks it means.

When I was a kid, I dreamed of being an NBA player. In those dreams when I was named the MVP, I didn’t feel humbled; I felt honored. Now every time an award is handed out, the recipient talks about how he or she is “humbled.”

To me, that always comes across as fake humility. In contrast to today’s fake humility, there is the humility of Jesus.


Selfish Ambition

Based on what the apostle Paul writes in his letter to the church at Philippi, it appears that the Philippians struggled to maintain unity.

  • “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel” (1:27). 
  • “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” (2:3-4). 
  • “Do all things without grumbling or disputing” (2:14). 
  • “I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord” (4:2). 

The Philippians needed to be people of humble service, and so do we. How can we be people of humble service?

If we are to be people of humble service, we must think about who Jesus is, what he chose to do, and why he chose to do it. 

We are naturally self-centered people. (Have you noticed that when someone shows you a photo that you’re in, you always first check for yourself first? Everyone else in the picture could have their eyes closed, but if you look good, it’s a great picture.) Humility doesn’t come easy for us.


The Attitude of Christ

Paul writes, “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus” (v. 5, NIV). In verses 6-8, we discover that the attitude of Christ is a mindset of humble service.

  • Jesus was “in the form of God” (v. 6; cf. John 1:1). The NIV reads “in very nature God.” 
  • Jesus “did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped” (v. 6). This is the opposite of “selfish ambition” (v. 3). 
  • Jesus “emptied himself by taking the form of a servant” (v. 7). He declared, “I am among you as one who serves” (Luke 22:27). He acted as a servant when he washed his disciples’ feet (John 13:4-5). 
  • Jesus was “born in the likeness of men” (v. 7; cf. John 1:14). 
  • Jesus “humbled himself” (v. 8). In other words, he chose humility 
  • Jesus became “obedient to the point of death” (v. 8). He “gave himself for our sins” (Gal. 1:4). 
  • Jesus died “on a cross” (v. 8). Crucifixion was an excruciating and humiliating way to die. Jesus once said, “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). 

If we are to be people of humble service, we must think about who Jesus is, what he chose to do, and why he chose to do it.

Who is Jesus? He is God in human flesh. What did he choose to do? He chose to die on a cross. Why did he choose to do this? To save us. 

If God served us to the extent that he died on a cross for us, who are we to refuse humbly serving others?