Follow Your Commanders Into Battle (Phil. 2:19-3:21)

Posted: January 17, 2011 in Uncategorized

What does Jesus have to do with the mini-series “Band of Brothers”?  If you have seen the mini-series Band of Brothers then you will remember that it follows a platoon of soldiers from basic training to D-Day to their storming of Hitler’s Eagles’s Nest.  You will also remember that initially their platoon commander was played by the dork Ross from Friends and that he was a tough commander but a terrible, confused field leader.  So, the solders lobby to get him sacked because they don’t want to follow someone who can’t make quick decisions in battle.  They needed a leader they could trust and follow into battle. 

Soldiers need basic training so that certain actions become second nature but they also need to follow a real person into battle who knows what he or she is doing. 

As I argued during the Christmas Conspiracy Project sermon series, Christianity is a battle.  It is a war.  Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8) and he is our king and we are to be his loyal soldiers.   

 King Jesus’ Soldiers need field commanders that are wise and brave and that we can believe in as we follow them into battle.  In other words, we need to see the Gospel lived out day-to-day.  Christianity is not a “thought religion” where it is all about what you believe but is a life to be lived day-in and day-out.  Christianity is an “enfleshed” faith.  Paul gets that and this is part of what he does when he writes to the church at Philippi. 
So, let’s look at Philippians 2:19-3:21:
2:19 I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you. 20 For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. 21 For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. 22 But you know Timothy’s proven worth, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel. 23 I hope therefore to send him just as soon as I see how it will go with me, 24 and I trust in the Lord that shortly I myself will come also.

25 I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need, 26 for he has been longing for you all and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill. 27 Indeed he was ill, near to death. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. 28 I am the more eager to send him, therefore, that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious. 29 So receive him in the Lord with all joy, and honor such men, 30 for he nearly died for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was lacking in your service to me.

3:1 Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you.

2 Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. 3 For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh— 4 though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. 7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained.

17 Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. 18 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

 As you can see, Paul just didn’t plant a church that put on a good show and then move on, he trained men and lived among them for months or years until he prayerfully believed they were ready to take the lead themselves. 
Why? Do you know why you have the accent you have? You can take a baby put it in the deepest backwoods of West Virginia but surround it with British parents and friends and guess what kind of accent that kid will have? British! It is not a cultural thing so much as it is a fact that we imitate what is around us. 
The lack of true spiritual mentors is one of the reasons so many “Christians” fall away or do nothing.  Too many churches just seek to give “Biblical” information to people but that’s not biblical.  The bible teaches that we are to disciple people so that they can disciple people who will disciple people, etc.  Discipleship is tough, day-to-day business.   
Discipleship is such serious business that Jesus actually ran weakly committed followers away.  Jesus wasn’t like most churches today that are like sad, co-dependent weaklings with outstretched arms begging to be liked.  Jesus did not define success by the number of people who showed up but by the number of people who were transformed!  He did this through years of pouring himself into others and we need to reboot our churches to do the same.   
But if you are truly interested in discipleship then what should you look for?  D.A. Carson in his pimp book on Philippians, Basics for Believers, outlines it this way: 
2:19-21—look to those who are interested in the welfare of others.  Paul sent Timothy to help the Philippians with their growth because Timothy cared about them! Too many pastors care about what you can do to help their church grow and flourish by worldly standards but Paul sends leaders who actually care about the people as people. 
If you watch the movie The Big Kahuna, the end will give you an idea of what I am talking about.  The movie focuses on a young conservative Baptist who is trying to convert a corporate “big kahuna” but in the end he only wants to convert someone apparently to rack up numbers. He knows nothing about the person he is talking to and apparently doesn’t care!   That’s not Timothy.  Stay away from those who just want to make you another attendee in their church and look for those who truly care about you.
2:22-30—look to those who have proven themselves in hardship.  I have nothing to learn from Christians who have never struggled.  I want to learn from people with battle scars!  I remember hearing from a buddy about a woman who lost a baby to SIDS.  She walked up to the front of the church the Sunday after the funeral and said through tears, “I still believe.”  I don’t know about you but I think I can learn a lot from that woman!
3:1-9—look to those whose confidence is in King Jesus, nothing else.  I don’t want to follow Christians who obviously care more about their careers than Jesus.  I can’t learn from people who have built up a comfortable routine that defines their life.  I want people who will risk it all because they know that even if they lose their life, they get Jesus and that is worth more than anything.
3:10-16—look to those who continue to grow.  I also have nothing to learn from those who act like they have this all figured out.  I want to look to humble people who are constantly striving to learn more about God and live more like Jesus.
3:17-21—look to those who eagerly await our King’s return.   Too often Jesus’ 2nd coming is treated like a horror movie!  It is a “hurry up and get baptized because Jesus is coming to get you!”  I want to look to men and women who are eager for Jesus return because they trust God to be righteous judge and passionately look forward to Jesus awesome reign here on earth.
It all starts with an understanding of the Gospel (2 Cor. 5:21) and then if it sinks in then a person will humbly look for another farther along the journey to lead them into battle.
I pray that you will come to such an understanding and that you will find a mentor that you can follow as he or she follows Christ.

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