Saturday 31 December 2016

Bible Book:

to the glory of God the Father." (vv. 10-11)

Philippians 2:6-11 Saturday 31 December 2016

Psalm: Psalm 96:10-13


If you are reading this study on the scheduled day, tonight is anight full of promise, fireworks, parties, music - and also a timeoffering space to reflect, regret, saying goodbye, and welcoming inthe potential of a brand new, shiny, sparkling, New Year. For manypeople, today (and the next few days) are marked out by questionsof personal ambition and passion. What do we want to achieve overthe next year? What characteristics do we want to develop? Whatmight we want to change in our lives?

These questions are not a new phenomenon, however.

Throughout the letter to the Philippians, Paul encourages hishearers to remain group-orientated rather than individualistic intheir outlook. This group identity is then marked out by peoplecommitting themselves to living in harmony, unity, humility andhospitality.

This passage, often treated as a later addition to the letter,and seen as an early hymn celebrating Christ's identity. However,such interpretations neglect the significance of these verses inthis overall structure of Paul's argument.

Rather than being a poetic interlude, there is recentscholarship to suggest that instead, here, Jesus becomes exhibit Ain Paul's desire for the Philippian church to be marked out byharmony, unity, humility and hospitality. Jesus provides thedefinitive example of the type of behaviour that shouldcharacterise the Christian life.

Through Jesus, God has moved into the neighbourhood - and hasdone that in fully human form. Jesus' humility means that hetransforms the world through service and humility, rather thanthrough power and violence. Jesus willingly puts himself at themercy of the powerful, and those seeking to be popular. Jesus isobedient to the violent method through which God's love is ultimateshown to the world. It is this sacrifice which enables the fullflourishing of humanity, as the Philippian church (and us), areinvited to proclaim Jesus' lordship and authority.

The need for distinctive group identity in the face of thechallenges of individualism is more pertinent than ever in ourcontemporary lives. As a local, connexional, and global movement,being marked out by following Jesus' example, and by being acommunity identified by harmony, unity, humility and hospitality,may indeed be the way to change the world.

To Ponder

  • How might this passage impact upon any resolutions you might bemaking?
  • Which is most important for you - harmony, unity, humility andhospitality? What one thing can you do today to demonstrate thischaracteristic to someone else?
  • Listen to a version of the hymn 'At the name of Jesus.' Whatstrikes you on this hearing?
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