|Morning sermon: 9.30.12: Pastor Mark Congrove|
Note: sermon/ Philippians 1:21-29: The measure of my life
Consider the great sages of our time:
- The stoics said deny yourself
- The Epicureans and pleasure seekers of the day say please yourself
- The moralists of the day say hold yourself
- The post-moderns of the day say convince yourself
- And the humanists of the day say advance yourself.
What is the measure of a life well lived? You might be surprised about what Paul doesn’t say…
- Nothing is said about running over the guy in front of you on the way to the top.
- Nothing is said about spending yourself in martyrdom for the sake of name, game, or public recognition.
- Nothing even said here about an unnatural pre-occupation with the heavenly needs at the expense of earthly concerns…
- Nothing about crawling to the finish or carelessly living our lives as an easy escape for heaven.
Not surprising then, read in my own time of people who have made it, but aren’t sure what to do with it…
Neil Diamond, singer songwriter, I am, I said,
Well I’m New York City born and raised
But nowadays, I’m lost between two shores
L.A.’s fine, but it ain’t home
New York’s home, but it ain’t mine no more
"I am," I said
To no one there
An no one heard at all
Not even the chair
"I am," I cried
"I am," said I
And I am lost, and I can’t even say why
Leavin’ me lonely still
Did you ever read about a frog who dreamed of bein’ a king
And then became one
Well except for the names and a few other changes
I you talk about me, the story’s the same one
But I got an emptiness deep inside
And I’ve tried, but it won’t let me go
And I’m not a man who likes to swear
But I never cared for the sound of being alone
But not for all…
What you do see:
This is a life of settled conviction. 1:20-22
Paul talks about his time on earth as being fruitful, meaningful, and worthwhile for many!
The essence of a life that died daily into himself in order that it might live eternally for the Savior:
Galatians 2:20 is the best commentary.
Imagine a life where the joy of living the pattern for living, and the potential for living are clearly seen: [Swindoll: Liz Elliot]
My heart softened because Elisabeth Elliot, in cooperation with the other four widows, told the story with complete confidence in the providence of God. Her words dripped with grace toward the savages who had killed her mate. Life had handed this young woman every reason to become disillusioned, every right to grow bitter; instead, she strengthened her resolve to follow her original calling. Rather than dismiss her circumstances as senseless, or perhaps an indication the mission had been folly, Elisabeth Elliot continued working in Ecuador.
This is a life with the eternal value of heaven in view: 1:23
Paul’s life not a low crawl to the finish, hoping at best to throw ourselves across the finish line in exhaustion. Neither is it a blissful continuation of earth, but a transition into the presence and glory of the self existent one!
Interpretation: "Straight between two"- Lightfoot: Hemmed in on both sides!
And ready to depart!
Jim Boice astutely recognizes the nature of the verb! He writes;
Whenever a party of Roman soldiers reached the end of a long day’s march they made camp… A Roman camp, even when the legion was under pressed marches, was always an elaborate affair. First a rectangle was paced off, large enough to hold the contingent if soldiers. The troops occupied assigned places within the encampment. After the rectangle was paced out, the entire encampment was secured by moat and rampart, often to a combined height of 10 or 12 feet. The top was reinforced and the corners were strengthened. After this the soldiers settled down for rest and for their evening meal. In the morning the camp was struck, and the soldiers moved on. Behind lay the camp with all its fortifications like a discarded chrysalis, mute testimony to the fact that they had been there.
It’s with that image Paul anticipates his new life… All that is not useful is left behind… All the sin, all the pain… And all the cares that have proved so burdensome and weighty!
In that heavenly state:
- He is finally free from the burdens of evil.
- Finally free to be like Christ: I John
- Finally freed to be with Jesus: II Cor.5:17; I Cor.15:
This is the life of an effective other-minded servant: 1:24-29
Where the development is viewed as progress. 1:25-26
If there are two more needed words in the Christian’s toolbox, I can’t imagine what they’d be:
- A progressing development of the character within us
- And the joyful exuberance of the glory that resounds before us.
Where our behavior betrays the location of our real home: 1:27
[Ralf and Lena]
Great words here!
Politeuo: the political unit if the age. The Greeks belonged to it like we belong to a country.
It takes on the meaning of citizenship. Paul is asking them to conduct themselves as worthy citizens to the state with whom they’re connected. A relationship that’s hard for us imagine: living in a place yet with no connections to it. Not possible for a citizen if the Greek polis.
- The Polis was his life– it’s laws were part of his being–
- he understood and rejoiced in its customs.
- He knew all about it and he knew nearly all it’s inhabitants.
- The polis demanded his complete loyalty and he willingly gave it. It was his longing, his life, and his priority.
That very image us was dominates Paul’s mind. (27) Living out your citizenship where you are as a citizen of heaven and an owner of the Gospel.
Is the polis a state? So is the church… Christians are to work within the organization. Is the polis people? So is the church…. We are preserve individual interests and respect individual contributions. Is the polis a living community? The church is also! Christians are to share a common life and contribute to each other’s well- being as living members of Christ’s body. (88)
Paul knew just how proud the Philippians were of their heavenly citizenship. Philippi was a colony at the outer edge of the empire but one which a Roman citizen could feel completely at home. It impressed itself on their lives beyond all else. How much more then were they to value their citizenship in heaven.
Where opposition is viewed as victory: 1/28-29
Opposition is not something desirable: we often view it as a sign of defeat. But for Paul, the opposition mounted against him was testimony of the imminent destruction if the enemy and their witness to the ultimate salvation of those in the faith.
A token of destruction: legal term: refers to proof obtained by an appeal to the facts: results
A failure of the Saints to be terrified by the antagonism if their adversaries was clear evidence that the pagans/ Jews were well on their way to destruction– and that these believers were well in their way to final citizenship.
Here also is an illusion to the gladiatorial contests: where thumbs up meant life– thumbs down ensured their Demise! Lightfoot writes,
The Christian gladiator dies not anxiously await the signal of life or death from a fickle crowd. The great director of the contest Himself has given him a sure token of deliverance. (53)
Interesting sign: the sign if the oppobent’s destruction and believer’s destruction! Don’t kid yourselves, there is something convicting and powerful about the blissful reunion in heaven that causes post moderns to create their own reality of security in death, elusive as it is–
It’s all a matter if perspective:
E. Stanley Jones…
The early Christians did not say in dismay, Look what the world has come to, but in delight, Look what come to the world. They saw not merely the ruin, but the resources for the reconstruction of that ruin. They saw not merely that sin did abound, but that grace did much more abound. On that assurance, the pivot of history swung from blank despair, loss of moral nerve, and fatalism, to faith and confidence that at last sin had met its match, and something new had come into the world…(90)Boice
So now, I’m curious about your belief system, about your reason for living and your hope for the future. Listen, while I don’t do altar call, make no mistake about my passion for decisions that please God.
- Are you an effective servant if Jesus Christ? Has unconfessed sin overwhelmed your ability to carry a testimony to others? Has busyness overwhelmed your availability, selfishness overwhelmed your interest in others, or maybe you just don’t care?
- Is your life lived out in the heaven lies or characterized by an overwhelming interest in earthly stuff? Don’t bother me, I’m building up my kingdom like the Pharohs of old to carry over to the other side?
- You who are rightly engaged in the battle for the souls of men: are you low crawling toward heaven or boldly embracing it as the next great thing? So tuned in to the destruction of all that we despise, so distraught over the certain judgment if the wicked that you’ve forgotten the imminent glorification if believers in heaven?
I am crucified with Christ, yet I live; but the life I now live, I live by the power of God, of Christ who loved me and gave his life for me