Therefore, if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort in love, any sharing in the Spirit, any sympathy, complete my joy by thinking the same way, having the same love, being united, and agreeing with each other. Don’t do anything for selfish purposes, but with humility think of others as better than yourselves. Instead of each person watching out for their own good, watch out for what is better for others. Adopt the attitude that was in Christ Jesus:
Though he was in the form of God, he did not consider being equal with God something to exploit. But he emptied himself by taking the form of a slave and by becoming like human beings.
I chose this passage from Philippians in part because it is the book we will study during Lent…
Just a little background for us today on the Letter to the church in Philippi
It is believed by scholars that the author of the letter was the apostle Paul sometime between 55-62 CE
and that Paul was in prison when he wrote the letter
… Philippi was a city in Macedonia, a stop on one of the main roads between East and West in the Roman Empire
It was written to the 1st church established by the Apostle Paul in Europe
In the book of the Acts of the Apostles (16) we read that Paul has a dream or a vision of a man pleading for him to go Macedonia and help them… this is what lead to his journey there and the establishment of the church in Philippi
This letter is an example of practical theology
theology which is the study of the nature of God… or as I like to say is God talk
Practical theology is…the study of theology in a way that is intended to make it useful or applicable.
Another way of saying it is that it is the study of theology so that it can be used and is relevant to everyday concerns.
Or quite simply talk about God that applies to our every day lives.
So let’s talk about God… let’s do some practical theologizing
Taking all the passages read today in consideration… a conversation with those present took place with my asking the following questions… and being sure to make a few points.
What is the summation of the commandments?
Love our neighbors as ourselves
What does it mean to think like Christ or have the mind of Christ?
focus on love, being united, agreeing (what about standing your ground?)
be humble, put others first, serve others
What are some of the guidelines for behavior as followers of Christ?
Be happy, share other’s joy and their sorrow, welcome strangers to your home, don’t think or act like you are better than anyone else, continues to the needs of others, pray, love each other
Let’s talk about love? What is love?
The Oxford Annotated Bible
Philippians: A Participatory Study Guide, by Bruce Epperly
Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC by Frederick Buechner