Philippians 2: 1-24
Take a moment to be still and to pray ‘Come, Holy Spirit’ before reading the scriptures. If you are in the company of others, invite someone to read the text aloud.
If you are gathering with your family, invite someone to read this reflection aloud.
“For there is hope to attain a journey’s end when there is a path which stretches between the traveller and his goal. But if there is no path, or if a man does not know which way to go, there is little use in knowing the destination. As it is, there is one road, and one only, well secured against all possibility of going astray; and this road is provided by one who is himself both God and man. As God, he is the goal; as man, he is the way.”
This week we have been reflecting on the mystery of godliness, by asking ourselves the question, why did God become human? Already we have seen that through the incarnation, Jesus saved us, sympathises with us, and can be heard in the heavenlies passionately praying for us.
Let’s take things one step further; for in becoming the God-man, Jesus also offered us a pattern to practice. A way of living into the fullness of life.
As we read in 1 Peter 2, Christ has left us an example, that we should follow in His steps. In observing the embodied life of Jesus we find the way we are to follow. We are invited to live the kind of life Jesus lived by doing the same kind of things that Jesus did. If we truly have faith in Christ, we must be those who also believe He knew how to live life well, showing us the shape our lives should take.
Disciples are those who look at the overall way of Jesus and do not see a legacy merely to be admired, but rather a lifestyle to be imitated.
As we look at the shape of Jesus’ life, we see a blueprint for our lives also. In hearing the Rabbi call out to us, “Follow me,” we receive an invitation to adopt the overall lifestyle of Jesus by reconstructing our priorities around His practices, repeating them so often they become engrained, habitual rhythms.
By His own Spirit, the life of Jesus is available for us to embody today.
As we close out this week, I want to highlight two ways through which we can look at the example of Christ and allow our feet to get dusty as we follow in His footsteps – serving and sabbathing.
Following Paul’s remarkable exposition of the nature of Christ, who made Himself nothing, taking on the form of servant and being found in appearance of a man, Paul includes a note to the Philippians when he sends his apprentice Timothy. In lines which are often overlooked, Timothy shows us what it means to adopt the pattern of Christ by practicing His way. Paul writes that so many are caught up in the cycle of self-interest. Timothy, however, adopts the Jesus way by showing genuine concern for the welfare of others. An other-centred way of living aligns us with the mindset of Jesus Himself, through which others are served and He is exalted.
True living is found through the expression of self-sacrificing love on behalf of another. The truly great are willing servants, for it is in giving that we receive. In losing our lives on behalf of others, we paradoxically find life in its fullness.
Apprentices of Jesus instinctively embody an agape love. Dietrich Bonhoeffer categorizes this into three acts of service: “the service of listening, the service of active helpfulness with the bothersome things of life by which we are interrupted by God, and the service of forbearance, in which the strong help the weak, the healthy help the ill and the righteous help the fallen.”
We are to listen. We are to help. We are to be patient.
I know I’m labouring the obvious: the way of Christ is tethered to our service of others. But this is a good moment to be reminded of what is most basic. For as we all look eagerly ahead to restrictions being eased off, it would be easy for us to double down, paying attention solely to ourselves. May we be the kind of people who choose a different, dusty road, that leads us away from ourselves and towards the good of others.
Depending on which time of day you are practicing this office, you can use the morning or evening prayer. All to pray the following words aloud.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
Oh Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
St. Francis of Assisi
If you are gathering with your family, wait a moment and listen for the voice of God. Prayerfully share any words, pictures, encouragements or scriptures with each other by the laying on of hands.
Whether you are by yourself, or in the company of others, take time to pray for others that the Holy Spirit brings to mind, blessing them in His name.
Close your time by singing or saying aloud the Doxology.
“Fight back the dark with doxology. Doxology can detox the day.”
Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, you heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!
Amen and Amen.