This section, 2:1-11 of Paul’s Letter to the Church at Philippi, written while Paul was under house arrest in Rome, is one of the greatest glimpses of Jesus, the Suffering Servant of anywhere in the Bible. In essence, Jesus, the Son of God, gives us the supreme example of how God desi9res for us to live. Since we are united with Christ, we are called to be like Him. It all begins with humility, putting others before ourselves. God can change the world through us if we are willing to be like Jesus who was the Suffering Servant.
In the prologue to his marvelous Gospel, John, the Apostle, gives a glimpse of the Suffering Servant from his close-up and personal vantage point. He came as the light, trying to drive back the darkness, but he was misunderstood. Even though Jesus had made the world, the world did not recognize Him. While He came bringing the gift of forgiveness and salvation, even His own people did not receive Him. These negative responses to Jesus must have been the most difficult suffering of all. So it is with us when people don’t understand, recognize, or receive the good news which we proclaim through our words and actions.
On this day set aside to celebrate ZPC’s 30th Anniversary, we give thanks for the way in which God has done abundantly above what we could ask or think. We praise God for His wondrous blessing and provision. With words of gratitude on our lips, we turn from the past and move expectantly into the future, “straining toward what is ahead.” Together we will be challenged by specific plans from Vision 2020 to make disciples and release them for service in a broken world.
In this last Mark of a Disciple we are called to follow Jesus in being willing to empty ourselves of power and prestige and become servants. To be Jesus’ servants means placing our lives are in His hands and completely at His disposal. When we follow Him, we do what He did, proclaiming the good news of repentance, forgiveness, and hope through our actions as well as our words. Being Jesus’ servants also means being caretakers of all the good gifts we have been given, which includes our time, talents and financial resources.
From the very moment that we take our first step on the journey of discipleship, the Bible, God’s Word is a crucial ingredient. Just as newborn must be fed or it will die, so we must be nourished daily from the Bible. We grow into the person God desires each one of us to be. Without a daily diet of the Word, we become “spiritual runts.” It is as we internalize the Word so that it becomes a part of our very being, that we recognize sin for what it is. It is the Word which serves as a lamp to discern the right direction when we have decisions to make. It is in the Word that we find comfort, peace, wisdom and meaning as we navigate the lives God has given us. The Word is our Handbook for Life given to us by our Loving Creator God.