THE IF/THEN PARADIGM
The best churches are the ones who learn in suffering to say, “Not our will, but God’s will be done.”
A church that shares a submissive heart to God has members who individually sign on to that kind of attitude.
The minority churches of the New Testament were often misunderstood and treated badly by outsiders. Sometimes the stress comes from within the group. This kind of hurt can break you down and cause turmoil and division. Paul invites them into a better way of handling the pressure. He appeals to what they have already experienced.
When faced with challenges and division, there is not a pastor or church that can mandate submission from its members. Legalistic rules can include and exclude but not produce a heart attitude like Jesus had. That heart can only come from people who have experienced God’s Love.
Paul appeals to the Philippians with “If/then” statements. Instead of telling them how to think, he invites them to consider why they might change their mindset. He does not ask them to give what they have not first received.
· If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ
· If you have any comfort from his love
· If you have any common sharing in the Spirit
· If you have any tenderness and compassion
Every member could look past their fear, frustration and apprehension in answer to these propositions. Why yes, following Jesus had lead them to experience their share of encouragement, comfort, fellowship and tenderness.
It was because of God’s love that they had responded to Jesus in the first place. The power of love had drawn them into this shared life. Paul couches his invitation in an “If/then” paradigm. If these things have been found to be true, then would they consider responding in these ways?
· Then, experience the same joy Paul has encountered in submission to God
· Then, let go of your selfish ambition and conceited ways
· Then, discover the humble way of placing greater value on others
· Then, find out what others need and do that
These are the essential characteristics of a Christ-like mind. If Jesus knew the all-powerful Love of God, then He could submit to anything required to show others that love. It is the inner working of God’s Spirit that frees us to live with humility in our relationships.
Pride is competitive by nature and tries to lift a person above others, so promoting conflicts rather than harmony. By contrast, humility accepts a place of service, with concern for the needs and interests of others. Love is essential for humility.