This weekend worshipers in many churches will hear a reading from Philippians 2.1-13 that includes the so-called hymn to the incarnate Christ as well as Paul’s counsel for Christians to live up to the standards of love set by Christ. If I have this right, Paul wrote the letter to a people who were living in uncertain times in which their economic status was neither high nor secure, and where the likelihood of oppression or persecution was high.
They were encouraged to be filled with love, to do nothing from selfish ambition, to be humble in their relationships with others and to be intent on helping those in need. They were under no illusion that faith in God through Jesus Christ would somehow make life safer, more prosperous or relieved of troubles. That wasn’t the point. The point was that in Christ they could not simply endure but spiritually flourish no matter what their economic and political condition might thrust upon them. Moreover, the gift of a resurrection life of great joy was already theirs by the irrevocable grace of God through Christ.
How different that is from the huge number of modern day Christians who look to Christ to solve all their problems, patrol the road of life to remove dangers, and, in some cases, to make them prosperous, even rich. How did we get so far away from what Jesus actually taught? How did we take on the idea of Jesus as something of a supernatural fairy godfather, presuming, of course, that the believer has the right kind of faith in the right amount and offers up his or her prayers in the right way?
Those who are so almighty intent on being “orthodox” in every way might want to take a turn in toward Philippi and leave behind the road they’re on.
PS One of my most intimate critics says that I don’t invite enough conversation on these posts, so consider this a very open invitation.