Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Gospel Motivates Us To Pour Ourselves Out For The Church

Paul’s call to the Philippian church to be unified, love one another and show humble preference to one another (Phil 1:27; 2:1-4) is a tall order. So Paul immediately pointed them to the ultimate example: Jesus Christ. Jesus existed in equality with God in heaven, yet did not exploit his privileges for his advantage, but emptied himself of the comforts of his position, and came to earth as a Man (Phil 2:6-8). As a Man, he humbled himself, veiled his glory and lived as a servant; and this humble love took him to the lowest point: the shameful death of the cross.   

It is this mindset Jesus demonstrated – this attitude of humble, self-emptying love – that Paul says the church is to share among ourselves (2:5). So the church is to be likeminded, and the mind we are to share is specifically shown to us in the gospel of Jesus Christ. He poured himself out in humble love for the church; therefore we respond to the gospel by pouring ourselves out in humble love for the church. This is worship.

All of these elements are crucial. If we try to pour ourselves out for the church without first ‘seeing’ the gospel – being affected in mind and heart by Christ’s death and resurrection – then our self-giving is in vain. Any motivation other than joyful gratitude and love for Jesus will rob our hard labor of value, and leave us in a joy-less, burned-out condition. But when we gaze at the glory of Jesus in his selfless humiliation at the cross; when we are affected by the power of the gospel and see Christ bleeding for us on the cross, we can now respond in God-glorifying worshipful obedience. This obedience will manifest itself by having the same mind of Christ that drove him to the cross, and we will begin to see ourselves serving the church in love.

What about the hypocrites in the church? What about those who hurt us? It doesn’t matter; I’m looking at the cross! I’m serving Jesus by serving his body. I’m loving the Lord by loving his bride.

This mindset is demonstrated throughout Scripture:

Ø  God the Father loved us and gave his Son (John 3:16).

Ø  Jesus loved us and gave himself (Gal 2:20b). Ephesians 5:25-27 specifically shows us that Jesus gave himself up ‘for the church’ for the purpose of cleansing and purifying – building us up.

Ø  Paul and the Apostles loved the church and poured out their lives for her upbuilding. Paul is willing to be gladly poured out as a drink offering for the church (Phil 2:17). He is willing to suffer all things for the sake of the elect (2 Tim 2:10). He risks his life traveling around the countryside and the city’s strengthening the churches (Acts 15:40-41; 18:23).

Ø  The apostolic assistants loved the church and gave themselves for her edification. Timothy went wherever Paul sent him, loving the church and serving (Phil 2:19-24). Epaphroditus risked his life in the work (Phil 2:25-30). Titus also traveled at the direction of Paul, but served from his heart, loving the church and pouring himself out (2 Cor 816-17; Titus).

Ø  The elders of the local churches were called to care for the church and empty themselves in the feeding and leading of God’s flock (Acts 20:28).

Ø  All believers are called to love and build up the church in response to the gospel (Phil 2:5).

Because God has not destined us to wrath, but to salvation, and because Jesus died that we may be with him, therefore we are to love one another and build each other up (1 Thess 5:9-11).

Because God forgave us in Christ, we are to forgive one another in the church (Eph 4:32; Col 3:13).

In response to the gospel, we can encourage one another and stir each other up in our regular assembling together (Heb 10:24-25); We can cover over each other’s shortcomings with love, showing hospitality and using our gifts to build each other up (1 Pet 4:8-10). With our spiritual gifts we can strive to build up the church (1 Cor 14:12). And in love, we can serve one another (Gal 5:13).

See the gospel!
Respond with love of Christ!
This love of Christ will result in the loving of the church!

Let us respond to the gospel by pouring out our lives for Christ’s church!

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