Philippians 1:18-26, 3:4-11 & Colosians 3:1
Steve titled today’s sermon “The Language of Longing.” He focused on Philippians 1:21 and Paul’s statement that to live is Christ and die is gain. That means that everything else is subordinate to Christ. That longing defines Paul’s ministries—and many others, he said. While many Christians say that, in reality work comes first, taking all our energies, time and efforts.
“If we were honest with ourselves, that’s where most of our energy goes,” Steve said. “There’s nothing wrong with being fulfilled by work, but if it’s our ultimate fulfillment there’s something wrong with us. For some of us, it’s family. It’s harder to talk about this. I love my wife and kids, but if my passion for Jesus is supposed to eclipse that and I’m not sure it does.”
Steve said that dying honors Christ because our gain is the ultimate prize, which is Jesus. Yet, while we’re alive, our prize should also be Jesus. The greatest danger in this country is not persecution, but comfort and lethargy. Or, we are too tired to read the Bible because we worked 10 hours that day. We should have the longing Paul describes in verse 23—to depart and be with Christ.
From there, he asked us to turn to Philippians 3:4-8, where Paul reviews his long list of religious qualifications, yet counts them as loss in comparison to gaining Christ. “He’s saying you can’t place a value on knowing Jesus,” Steve said. “There is no comparison. My heart screams: ‘Why don’t we know that? Why is everything else so big?’ I live as if that’s not true. What’s really important are all the other things.”
The answer is not feeling guilty or vowing to do better. Instead, it’s to recognize the language of longing, love and relationship. As an example, Steve recalled how no one had to tell him to call Jennifer when they were dating; he wanted to do that. That’s the way Paul thought about Jesus.
Moving on to verses 10-11 of chapter 3, Steve talked about how Paul wanted to share in Christ’s suffering because he wanted to know his Master and speak about Him out of that relationship. The only way he could was to know every aspect of His suffering, including His death. We were created for a lot more than showing up for church on Sunday, arguing on Facebook, or spouting opinions. We are called to a passionate love for God because our life is like a trumpet, declaring the King has come.
Returning to 1:21, he said there are three practical things we can take away from this verse:
1) To die is gain. The way we do this is to follow Colossians 3:1 and set our mind and heart on things above.
2) To live as Christ. The reason dying is good is because when we do we will make everything about Jesus.
3) That we need help in living this way. We should pray, ‘Let me be like this verse. Let me see who You are.”