Second Sunday in Lent (February 21, 2016)
- First reading
- Second reading
Philippians 3:17-4:1 | New Living Translation
Dear brothers and sisters, pattern your lives after mine, and learn from those who follow our example. For I have told you often before, and I say it again with tears in my eyes, that there are many whose conduct shows they are really enemies of the cross of Christ. They are headed for destruction. Their god is their appetite, they brag about shameful things, and they think only about this life here on earth. But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control.
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stay true to the Lord. I love you and long to see you, dear friends, for you are my joy and the crown I receive for my work.
We continue our journey to the cross this week. Our reading comes from Paul’s missionary letter to the church at Philippi. The church was one of Paul’s supporters and he was writing to tell them how things were going and how the church could pray for him. It was also a letter of encouragement. The reading picks up right after my life verse about pressing on toward the goal.
Paul is reminding the church at Philippi to stay true to the work of Christ. Paul with the help of the Holy Spirit working in his life is leading a life that is Christ-like. Jesus called us to pick up our crosses daily and follow Him. Paul is encouraging his readers to follow his example of a life of surrender to Christ and to pick up their crosses and follow Jesus. I don’t think – given the nature of the letter – that this was a warning, but an encouragement to continue to do what they were doing. There is also an encouragement to continue to learn – learning to be discipled is an important part of being a Christ-follower. We should always be learning – we should always be challenged in our walk.
Second, Paul warns the congregation not to be enemies of the cross. There are those, who call themselves Christ-followers who are really enemies of the cross. They are not following the way of Christ. Paul gives several examples. He mentions that their god is their appetite. I know that even after losing the weight that I lost, sometimes I feel as if my appetite has control of me instead of the other way around. This could probably be applied this way. If your appetite is for anything other than following Christ, whether it be eating – I know that’s not a popular stance – drinking, smoking, pursuit of pleasure – however that may look in your life, perhaps its time to re-evaluate and make a change. It’s interesting because Paul goes on to say that these whose god is their appetite, brag about these shameful things and that these things are only temporary. They will only last as long as we are on this earth. I do believe that there are those who call themselves Christian who only think about their life on this earth. In someways that shows in church attendance. They attend church only when they don’t have something better to do. We can’t live without a community of believers consistently and still be a Christ-follower. At least not as easily as some would think. We’ve made Christ-following an individual exercise rather than a community exercise. We need each other – to build each other up – to teach one another – to admonish (when necessary) one another.
Third, Paul reminds us that we are citizens of heaven. Again a reminder that we need to be about the Father’s business. Too many times we live as citizens of earth. We are too easily distracted by the things around us and forget that we are citizens of another Kingdom. Jesus is coming again – as Paul writes, “We are eagerly awaiting for him to return as our Savior.” I like the part where it says He will bring everything under his control. With the current climate we are in, it is certainly a reminder that God is in control and He put Jesus in control.
So let’s continue on our journey to the cross. Let’s stay true to the work of Christ. Let’s pick up our crosses daily. Let us shed off everything that is not of Christ and be everything that we can be for Christ.