This evening, we continued our journey through Philippians, looking at Phil 2:1-11. These very famous verses which show us Christ’s humility and exaltation are the model for how we should act in our relationships with others; Paul urges us to ‘have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.’ (Phil 2:5) As so often, Paul doesn’t just show us how to live; he shows us how Jesus lived and gives us not just abstract theory about discipleship but a living model. All of us learn best by copying what we see, as my younger granddaughter has demonstrated on walks by rivers – she too now spends her time picking up pebbles and throwing them into the water like her elder sister!
Jesus, although pre-existent as the Word of God, put on human flesh and did not count equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage. (Phil 2:6) He lived out the servant life so that we could see how we should serve others (see John 13:1-17, Matt 20:26-28). In Him, we see the divine order: descent before ascent, suffering before glory. J. D. Walt says, ‘I like to draw this great reversal out in simple symbols. \/ > /\. Descent precedes Ascent. Humility precedes lifting. Death precedes resurrection. Love precedes glory. Or as I like to say, “Down is the new up!”’
This challenges our way of thinking, the world’s way of doing things, and introduces us to God’s topsy-turvy kingdom. Paul always connects belief to behaviour, theology to actions. Our relationships have to be without selfish ambition and vain conceit, motivated by humility and a genuine concern for and interest in others, valuing them above ourselves. This isn’t possible in our own strength, but since we have the mind of Christ (1 Cor 2:16) and God’s Spirit living within us (1 Cor 6:19), it becomes possible through the power of God!