Where are we when we gather at church? We are at God’s school. We gather for the purpose of learning how to live and think in Godly ways, something we can only do effectively if we practice. We practice when to send and when to receive. We practice by eating and singing together, by serving humbly and giving generously. We practice resolving conflict, asking for (and offering) forgiveness.
Philippians 2:1-11 speaks of unity and of adapting our interests and behavior to one another. When Paul spoke to this early church, he was writing to a community that was rather impressed with itself. Much like the UT ad campaign slogan, “What starts here changes the world,” the church in Philippi believed it could rest on its laurels. It believed that it had humble practice all wrapped up and ready to deliver a needy world. But even as Paul wrote, this congregation was giving up hope in Christ, exercising violence toward its oppressors, and turning on itself.
To avoid that sort of mess, we at Servant Church must practice koinonia, what Eric calls deep partnership. We communicate; we share; we are all collaborating on a shared project. And to do that effectively, Paul is saying we must be of one mind? But that’s hard! It didn’t come easily to the Philippians and it doesn’t to us. That we are addicted to our own desires is the essence of sin. So how do we grow this unity and humility? God invites us to shape and undermine those desires by trying to have the same mindset as Jesus, who had every advantage but emptied himself out and even died for us. We should be content to live as the least important in society. We should look up at God and not at how far we’ve come. And we should continue to look for ways to serve, always to serve.