January 29, 2017: “Philippians: Motivation”

Rembrandt, "St. Paul in Prison"

An audio file of the sermon from January 29, 2017 is available at this link.

The Scripture readings are Job 2:1-10 and Philippians 1: 12-30.

“Like so much about Christian discipleship, this is a point where doing the right thing guided by your common sense isn’t enough. He pushes the point to its outer limit. Christianity isn’t about having the right friends. It isn’t about having the right political views. It isn’t about tolerance or justice. It certainly isn’t about morality or ethics.

“Christianity is about forgiveness and reconciliation. God has with enormous difficulty reconciled the world to himself through the cross and empty tomb of Jesus. And now we who are at “peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” as Paul says elsewhere, are working out all that means for us as we live on this wild, difficult planet with a lot of wild, difficult people. Jesus said it isn’t enough for you to love those who love you and pray for them; if you’re going to be part of his reconciling movement in the world, then you’re going to be acting in love and praying for your enemies as well. (Jesus doesn’t require you to like them, but he does insist that you act toward your enemies in love no matter how you feel.)

“Paul knows exactly what this means for his situation. Above all he knows what it means for the church: “The important thing,” he says, “is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.”

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