Formations lesson for May 23: Getting Along in Church : Friday, April 30, 2004
April 30 2004 by Linda Jones

Formations lesson for May 23: Getting Along in Church : Friday, April 30, 2004
Friday, April 30, 2004

Formations lesson for May 23: Getting Along in Church

By Linda Jones
Philippians 2:14-30; 3:17-4:3; 4:14-23

What is the reality of our contemporary life? We chase the American dream. We want the highest paying jobs, most comfortable homes, best cars, and wonderful vacations.

In the business world, there is a definite pecking order. We strive for recognition and prestige. Competition, rivalry, self-promotion is found everywhere. The world's view of power is to get it, hoard it and use it!

This is not a new problem. Even James and John, two of Jesus' disciples, wanted to sit on the right and left hand of Christ! Jesus told them that whoever wishes to be great must be a servant (Mark 10:43).

From Philippians 2:5-8, we read: "your attitude should be the same that Christ Jesus had. Though He was God, He did not demand and cling to His rights as God. He made Himself nothing; He took the humble position of a slave and appeared in human form. And in human form He obediently humbled Himself even further by dying a criminal's death on a cross."

But it is so difficult to lay down your self - self-rights, self-promotion, self-prestige, power and money. Do we imitate Francis of Assisi who "lived a life of simplicity, gave up all his inheritance and lived in poverty, kissing lepers and begging for bread (Discipleship Journal)?"

Or does God have in mind an underlying attitude, to live a life of love just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us (Eph. 5:2)?

The "me-first" mind-set is deeply rooted in our human heart and we have fears about entrusting ourselves to anyone else.

Domination or servanthood?

Our human instinct is to dominate others. Rules are laid down by society to restrain this instinct so we can live in community.

Having humility, a servant's heart, is not submitting to another person out of fear or out of an insensible desire to please. It's a choice that comes from a strong sense of our worth and identity in Christ.

Being a humble servant does not mean that you allow yourself to be abused. If you think that you are being dominated in a relationship or in your marriage through physical or sexual violence, intimidation or threats - kept away from family and friends - then you need help and support.

Domination is wrong. It is not possible to justify abuse through scripture. In the book of John, Jesus said: "I have come that they may have life and have it abundantly" A life of abuse is not what is described when we talk about servanthood and pouring your life out.

Christ is the opposite of the human drive to dominate. In His essence, in His very being, He is God! He had access to all privilege and power. Yet the great characteristics of Jesus' life were humility, obedience, self denial. He did not desire to control and rule men but to serve them. He did not desire His own way but only God's way. He did not desire to exalt Himself, but relinquished all His glory for our sake.

Christ and the church: one body

"No one hates his own body but lovingly cares for it, just as Christ cares for His body, which is the church. And we are His body. As the Scriptures say, 'A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.' This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one" (Eph. 5:29-31).

This is a picture of an intimate relationship of love. In fact, when Christ appeared to Paul on the road to Damascus in Act. 9:4, the Lord asked Paul: "Why are you persecuting me?", not "why are you persecuting the church?" or "why are you persecuting my disciples?"

How we behave towards the body of Christ is what we are doing to Christ, Himself. "Your attitude should be the same that Christ Jesus had." Serving, expressing God's love, makes His love real. It means freely undertaking any task or commitment necessary or helpful to another's spiritual, emotional and physical well-being.

4/30/2004 12:00:00 AM by Linda Jones | with 0 comments

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