I'm possibly back to the once a week posting. Hopefully I'll be able to improve my frequency soon.
Since my last post I've watched Mr. and Mrs. Smith, taken Anthony job-hunting, watched the Nativity Story, finished The Eye of the World and started The Great Hunt, done some Christmas shopping, given away food and Christmas presents in Waukegan, watched The Librarian : the Quest for the Spear, moved some videos out of my office, had a good prayer time with the guys from the LifeGroup, watched the Bears kick Ram-butt, cataloged some books, heard a message to the youth on trusting God from another of the high school students who used to be in my small group, taken Anthony to get an i.d. and some work clothes, talked to Mom, shocked co-workers by showing up before 8 a.m., taken Anthony to his work orientation at a local theatre, eaten boneless wings, watched Talledega Nights with some friends again, finished and discussed The Gutenberg Elegies for our library task force on information and the future, created a long run list of stuff I've done. Tonight Steve and I are going to see Eragon in an attempt to help Steve recover from a long day of inventory. I've not read the book and I'm not really expecting much, so it should be o.k.
This Sunday we got to hear from self-proclaimed bald-guy #3 instead of the one of the Johns. Greg is a Ph. D. student in New Testament at TEDS and I thought he had a very good sermon on dealing with selfishness in the holiday season from Philippians 2:3-11. The title was Christmas Ahead: Prepare to Yield. He began by telling us about an interview in the newspaper with a local mall parking lot security guard that illustrated people's selfishness this time of year. He also used a personal example of his own selfishness when he was in East Asia. Turning to the passage he structured it around the command in verse 3-4 with reasons for obedience from the following verses. According to verse 3 we should do nothing out of vain ambition or empty conceit. Greg likened this to a prima donna attitude that assumes the world exists to serve or fulfill me. Instead Paul challenges us to count others as more important than ourselves. Verse 4 expands on this by encouraging us to yield to the interests of others. Greg mentioned the common attitude that this is a nice principle but is not for the real world where nice guys finish last and we don't want to be doormats. He acknowledged the force of that objection, especially if the world is a closed system but argued that verses 6-11 show a different way to live.
Greg pointed to the argument of 2 Corinthians 8:8-9 where we have nothing to offer Christ but he becomes poor that we might become rich. Coming back to Philippians, we yield because we share the mind of Christ. According to verse 5 we should seek conformity with the live of Christ because he defines our existence. Therefore we should look at people and things as he did.
We yield for others because Christ did. Christ was the son of God and fully divine but he did not grasp onto his equality with God but willingly gave it up to take the form of a man, no longer the King but now a servant. As a servant he was obedient to the Father even to the point of dying on a cross, a death designed to display the criminal as an object of shame. The beauty of the Christmas story lies in God choosing to become man for our benefit.
We also yield because what happens here is not the end. We share in the destiny of Christ. The humiliation of the Son of Man was only temporary. The Father restores the glory and honor that the son had relinquished. As his followers we share in the suffering and humiliation of Christ but we will also have a share in His eternal glory. This is shown in Philippians 3:20-21 and Romans 8:16-17. We should expect our life to follow the same pattern as his, suffering and humiliation for a season, glory for eternity. Greg used the example of climbing the Yellow Mountains to watch the sunrise. It was a great deal of suffering getting up the mountain but beauty the next morning. He called us to imagine what our lives would be like if we were willing to yield.
As a result of the conviction I was feeling during the sermon and the communion and singing that followed. I went out with our church's monthly food delivery to a poor neighborhood in Waukegan. We deliver bags of groceries and this week we also had presents for the children. It was a good time and I was glad to be able to serve.
Verse of the week:
"Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 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. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Philippians 2:3-11 (ESV)