May 1, 2011 Sunday School Lesson Philippians 2:1-11
There is an old story about a man who was stranded on a deserted island for a long time. One day a boat passed by the island and some of the crew came ashore and found the man, who gladly showed them how he survived for so many years. The visitors noticed two buildings, and as they approached the first building, asked what it was. The man said it was the church he attended. The visitors asked, “What is that other building?” The stranded man replied, “That’s the church I used to go to.” Unity is hard to achieve in a church, and if you do not believe that, consider the number of churches in our area. There are so many different personalities and opinions in a church, but unity is still a possibility. Paul spoke of “consolation in Christ,” and this is where unity begins because it is the experience of the strength of Christ Jesus in a church family. The Savior is never pleased with grumbling or anything else that weakens His church. The apostle encourages us to have a sacrificial kind of love for our brothers and sisters in Christ. We ought to love even people we feel to be unworthy of love. There is also a special fellowship among believers because the Holy Spirit fills us. Having this filling of the Spirit in common brings about a spiritual union in the body of Christ. Compassion also must be part of every church. When we are compassionate, we are quick to reach out to people who are hurting. Perhaps they are unusual or even difficult people, but believers should still minister to them. Paul then addressed the issue of joy. We are most often concerned with our own joy, but how often do we think about the joy of other people? The result of our concern will be unity in the church. Practice humility, Paul wrote, because we ought to never look for our own glory in the church. Instead of concentrating on ourselves, we must turn our attention to Christ Jesus. No church can survive if its members fail to practice humility. In explaining the importance of humility, Paul wrote, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God.” There is no greater example of humility than Jesus. When the time came, the Lord laid aside His glory and everything majestic in heaven, and he came to live on earth. He is not similar to God, He is God. Jesus removed everything from Himself, and “took upon Him the form of a servant.” If Christ Jesus took it upon Himself to do this for us, surely we ought to be willing to empty ourselves of self for His church.
The Sunday school lesson is written by Ed Wilcox, pastor of Centerville Baptist Church, Lumberton, N.C. firstname.lastname@example.org