“If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.” (Philippians 2:1- 2)
If . . . I am stuck on this one beginning word, “if”. What IF there is not? What IF there is no encouragement in Christ, that love has not consolation, no communion in the Spirit, and compassion and sympathy are in rare supply.
Some days I have to wonder IF our world has gotten to that point. Some days the news is just so bad, so filled with meanness, hate, violence, and aggression. I read the newspaper and there is page after page of reasons to lament. And I do! I would quite despair of and for the world. Then, I remember the people around me, friends and family who remind me of the good in the world. Let us determine though, beloved reader, that we will not let the “if” stop us. Let us find our encouragement in the Christ, spread love that consoles, steep ourselves in the communion of the Spirit, and show compassion and sympathy to everyone so that there is joy. Let us . . .
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves.
Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.
Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death– even death on a cross.” (Verses 3 – 8)
Let us be like Christ Jesus, or as close to the example that Jesus set that we can be. Let us be the fulfillment so that “if” is not hoped for ideal, but a reality. Paul did not mean that goodness in this world might . . or might not be. He was sure that there was all the wondrous things he listed. Paul would tell us since Jesus Christ set the example, we are to follow it and form our lives around it. Paul would tell us that proof of Jesus’ good example was . . .
“Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Verses 9 – 11)
When we confess Jesus we are affirming that Jesus is Lord and that what God requires of us is what Jesus showed us. And that Jesus is worthy of worship, coming from God and being God. And that the Lord God Jesus Christ is the ruler overall, one who is to be followed above and in place of all other things. Paul says finally (in the portion of scripture) IF Jesus is all that the Divine is claimed to be . . .
“Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 2:13 for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure. “ (Verses 12 – 13)