REPOSTToday’s AMI QT Devotional, first posted on February 27, 2016, is provided by Phillip Chen who is associate pastor at Kairos Christian Church in San Diego. Phil is a graduate of University of California, San Diego (BS) and Talbot School of Theology (M.Div.).
Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend
“Starting a Church with a ‘Wrong’ Type of People”
Philippians 2:1-8 (ESV)
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
There is a Jewish prayer that men would pray. It goes like this: “Blessed are you, Hashem (which is a title for God), King of the Universe, for not having made me a Gentile, a slave, a woman.” This reflects the social structure that considered Gentiles, slaves, and women as second class citizen. The funny thing is that the inauguration of the Philippian church started with Lydia, the Philippian jailer, and the demonized slave girl. If you look carefully, you notice that these are the exact people that Jews considered as second-class citizens. Truly, God uses the foolish things of the world to shame the strong, the least expected people to shake society.
However, what is most shocking is how different these three people must have been. Can you imagine what it must have been like for these three people to be a part of the church-planting team in Philippi? It must have been difficult, as Paul writes this encouragement to the church, to pursue unity by having the mind of Christ. He is not denying the individuality or uniqueness of each person. Rather, he is encouraging the body to submit to the head, which is Christ, by having the same mindset. Paul says that we are to look not only to our own interests, but to the interests of others. What a difficult command this is, particularly as our sinful tendencies cause us to be naturally self-centered. It is not easy, but it is not impossible.
Brothers and Sisters, we are all part of local churches that are composed of different people. We all have different upbringings, different ways of doing things, different cultures and backgrounds, but we are to be in unity, in one accord by having this mind of Christ – to consider the interests of others more significant than our own. God will use whomever He wishes, and as He used the ‘weakest’ and most ‘diverse’ group of people in Philippi to impact their community, let’s pray that God would also give us a spirit of unity so that we might be healthy churches used by God for His purposes.
Prayer: Father, particularly as I relate to my church, help me to die to my flesh so that I might submit to the head of my church. Give me and my church a spirit of unity so that we would be a healthy church that can fulfill Your purposes for our church, as well as to bless and impact our immediate and surrounding communities. Fill us with Your Holy Spirit so that we can walk in step with the exciting things that You are doing. In Jesus’ Name I pray. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Numbers 6-7