Verses 5-11 may be the greatest and most moving passage Paul ever wrote about Jesus. In some of his letters Paul used them to be critical of some of the attitudes and actions of the Christian believers to the church to whom he wrote. In the case of the Philippians, however, it is more that Paul has experienced unified fellowships like the one at Philippi before, that have eventually struggled because of the reasons he gives here and he is concerned that this fellowship should recognise that there will be struggles in churches, but they will be aggravated if there are believers in those who have personal ambition to be top dog. The essence of being Christ's disciple is to seek to be like Him and the whole life of Jesus was one of selfless-giving. Are we, am I, are You like that? I must say, as this blog is received by Bearfielders mainly, that I thank God that I have not identified anyone who is trying to be the power behind the throne or to divide the church. I have experienced that in a previous church, as many of my colleagues have done whilst leading churches, and it becomes extremely difficult to bring any life to what is already there or to encourage any new people to give that church a try. You will know, perhaps, how difficult it is to get rid of damp in your home if it is a problem there and with no attention, how it begins to destroy it. So, it is with a church fellowship when there is even only one person who is seeking to use it for their own ends. I search my heart and I would encourage you to do the same. How do you view church? Is it a vehicle for you to receive what you 'need' from? Is it an arena for you to show off your spiritual gifts and to cause disruption if you are not acknowledged as someone amazing? Or is it an opportunity to demonstrate your servant-heart? Giving to others out of the love you have in your heart through the Lord Jesus Christ. As with Paul, I do not ask these questions because there is a poison to be rooted out, but because this is a good fellowship and it can only remain that way and grow to become even more active in demonstrating Christ's love by recognising the potential dangers as with the church at Philippi. Just a footnote: Paul quotes from the hymn that 'at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow', a verse which those who believe in universalism, that eventually everyone will receive eternity from a loving God as they come to acknowledge Christ's supremacy over all, will quote. I think it was likely used in the context of victorious Roman general, to whom the defeated, subjugated, peoples had to bow the knee, but didn't do so willingly.
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