Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Philippians 2:4-8 (ESV)
Paul’s words echo John 17:20-28 where Jesus prays that we would be one as He and the Father are one. Verse four in Philippians chapter two is an exhortation to look not only to our own interests but the interests of others. In the preceding verses he urges us to unity in Christ and to count others more significant than ourselves. It’s much like the radical way the early church lived in unity after Pentecost we’re discussing in the Together series (Acts 2:42-47).
In noting the pattern of sacrificial love which the believers modeled Jay observed: “The community of God is marked by sacrificial love for one another for a common purpose.” He noted that they sacrificed and had all things in common because of the unique movement of God that was taking place. The proselytes from all over the world who were there for the feast (Acts 2:7-12) were compelled to stay and meet with the other new believers (2:41-43), they sacrificed and had all things in common to remain together (2:44-45), and they added new disciples daily (2:47). They didn’t just sacrifice radically out of an obligatory duty or out of a forced attempt at community but they were unified by striving for a common mission.
Michael Frost in his book Exiles, recounts how the famous adventurer Shackelton, was willing to risk a long journey and a treacherous island to get help for the men stranded on his expedition. When he returned, having made good on his promise to not let any of them die at any cost, they had an absolutely unflappable devotion to him. There are countless stories of others in extreme or transitory situations who are radically drawn together. Soldiers fighting together and missionaries risking and serving together experience a totally incomparable sense of togetherness. Jay emphasized we can only be truly and sustainably together when we are striving for common purpose. We can only lovingly put others first in a such a sacrificial and significant way when we are united on mission.
Author: Marshall Sandoval