In last Sunday's teaching we listened to Paul exhort the Philippian Jesus Community (1) to imitate him, (2) to be careful of the "enemies of the Cross," and (3) to live as citizens of heaven. Let's consider what Paul is saying here and allow our lives to be examined with five critical questions.
"Imitate me" :: Rather than saying: "do life like me because I've arrived!", Paul offered an invitation to follow Jesus like he followed Jesus. How did Paul follow Jesus? He submitted his life, daily, to the authority of King Jesus. His posture and practice of submission caused the Spirit of Jesus to rise up in him and empowered him to live the Way of the Cross (postured below and prioritizing the flourishing of everyone) in mutually interdependent relationships with others.
"Enemies of the Cross" :: Here, Paul isn't referring generically to the inhabitants of Philippi, but instead, is identifying those who a believed that they could be reconciled to God through the blood of Jesus and continue to live an appetite-driven, me-focused existence that places the highest priority on my immediate personal satisfaction at significant cost to others. "Enemies of the Cross" are people who have converted to Jesus but who continue to live their lives submitted to the authority of no one or nothing other than themselves and their own appetites. These are men and women who choose to the live out the following myth: I can have my life AND the Way of Jesus. The great surprise is that this myth leads us in the WRONG direction and causes us to become contributors to the very pain, darkness, death, and destruction that God is seeking to eradicate.
What does it look like today to be "Enemies of the Cross"?
- Consumerism & accumulation in the presence of family members who have little to nothing.
- Consumerism & accumulation with very little concern for the social impact among the majority world.
- The highest percentage of our time & money invested in stuff for ourselves rather than in the flourishing of others.
- Attempting to satisfy an inner restlessness in isolation with the next purchase or the next fix or the next glance or the next drink, thinking “Jesus forgives me, so what difference does it make?”
- Extending hospitality until our own need for belonging is satisfied and then turning it off.
"Citizens of Heaven" :: N.T. Wright neatly defines heaven's citizens as "people who are steeped in a way of life from another place while living in this one."
What does it look like today to be "Citizens of Heaven"?
- Posture yourself below & prioritize flourishing
- Don’t run from conflict, run to it & seek reconciliation (experience grace, forgiveness, hope)
In Neighborhood / Vocational Space
- Cultivating belonging through shared tables & front yard presence
- Pay attention to what’s beautiful & broken (Immerse/Contend)
Within Region / Nation
Among the World
5 Critical Reflection Questions:
- How does my stuff (my abundance, accumulation, consumerism) and the percentage of my investment on the temporary impact my understanding of where my home really is?
- To what / to whom am I looking to satisfy my restlessness?
- What is beautiful & broken in the spaces where I live/work/play?
- With whom am I weaving heaven & earth together again?
- What needs to shift in my life so that I can receive and then live out of the empowerment of the Spirit?