thoughts on church as community 2

A reflection on Phil 2:1-4 from Carson:

‘…Paul asks us if there have been times in our lives when as believers we have sensed God close to us; when we’ve been aware of his love in tremendous, scarcely describable ways; when we have revelled in the sense of belonging to the fellowship of God’s people; when we’ve received wonderful encouragemnt as a ‘benefit’ of the fact that we are Christians. This is, quite bluntly, an appeal to experience.

But if these facets of normal Christian living have been part your experience, you must recongnise that a great deal of that experience has come about because other Christians have mediated God’s grace to you. They have loved you, cherished you, encouraged you, made you feel part of the partnership of the redeemed. What this means for you as a Christian is that you owe the same to others. And if you recognise this point and live by it you will excite the apostle’s joy: ‘…then [he writes] make my joy complete by being like-minded [i.e. adopting the same stance as those who have ministered to you, having the same love [i.e. as that shown to you], being one in spirit and purpose [i.e. the entire church is to reflect this same precious, Christ-honouring, God-fearing, self-denying, other-edifiying stance]’.

And in case this is not cast in terms that are sufficiently practical, Paul spells his point out: ‘Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others’ (2:3-4).’

D.A.Carson, Basics for Believers (Leicester: IVP, 1995), 57-8.

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