Gospel Examples (Philippians 2:19-30)February 27, 2022 | Brandon Cooper
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But go ahead and grab your Bibles open up to Philippians chapter two. We’ll finish the chapter this morning starting in verse 19. Going to the chapter Philippians 2:19. As you’re turning there, what do parents do? One of the things we often do is point our kids to examples that they should follow all sorts of areas. You got a kid piano and you’re listening to the Van Cliburn, and you’re like, do you see that? You see the crescendo? They’re like, you want to do that? You got to keep playing soccer. You like Kieran Tierney’s overlapping, run, that’s what you got to do. You can play left back, that’s what you got to do. Or even just, you know, class presentation, you see how they kept their hands and their side and they weren’t like, do that next time? Okay, I shouldn’t talk since my hands flail. But, and we do this, especially when it comes to character. Right? That’s the big one. Did you notice that she obeyed right away? Or did you did you see that he served without even being asked? He just knew that he should help there? Why do we do this? Why don’t we point to examples because they flesh out quite literally embody these abstract principles that we’re trying to teach kindness, sacrifice, selflessness, all of that. Now, if we’re being honest, we know that it’s not just kids who need that. We need this to like, we need examples. That’s one reason we’re so grateful for Christ’s incarnation, which we’ve even seen in Philippians. Two is Paul says in your relationship with one another, you know, follow Christ example, have his mindset. You see what he did, he wasn’t grasping at things himself, selfishly. No, he, he, he served in love. And we want to do that, too. So we talked about Jesus being our paradigm. But Jesus is God. And he’s really perfect. And we fall a bit short of that quite a bit. And so it can be helpful to have some other examples too. Just some people who are sons of Adam like we are who are struggling in the same path. And that’s the point Paul makes again, and again and again. First Corinthians 11. One, for example, he says, follow my example. As I follow the example of Christ. Follow my examples, I follow the example of Christ even later in our letter we’ll see here in a couple of weeks, he says, follow my example once more, and keep your eyes fixed on people who live as I do who live well, it makes sense that Paul would be pointing to people, it fits the overall theme of the letter, we remember the overall theme of Philippians. To advance the gospel, we must emulate Christ imitate Christ, and Paul, and then we got a few more tacked on today as well. So we need to imitate Christ, you need to imitate Paul. And in our passage today, we get to other examples of gospel living to emulate Timothy and a path for datas. They embody the behavior that Paul has been exhorting throughout this section of the letter conducting ourselves in a worthy manner. So there’s the simple idea up on the screen already, it’s not a complicated, main idea at all. Imitate godly examples, imitate godly examples, like Timothy, and Pafford. Itis. So how do we do that? Let’s look at Timothy first of all, so we’re gonna imitate Timothy, let me read verses 19 to 24. I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to assume that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you. I’ve no one else like him, who will show genuine concern for your welfare, for everyone looks out for their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. But you know that Timothy has proved himself because there’s a son with his father, he has served with me in the work of the gospel. I hope, therefore, to send him as soon as I see how things go with me. And I’m confident in the Lord that I myself will come soon.
All right, what’s happening here. So if you were here last week, you know that Paul had, at the very end, brought himself back into the picture. Even if I am being poured out like a drink offering, you know, I want to labored in vain I can rejoice all that stuff. And so he’s kind of picking up the thought where he left off in all way back in chapter one, verse 26, with his affairs, the fact that he misses them and wants to be with them. Remember, he said, this is way back that you might not remember but he said way back then he was convinced that he wouldn’t actually be executed even though he’s in prison. But we’ll get to be with the Philippians again for their progress and joy in the faith. But not yet. Not yet. He’s still in prison. And so he, he thinks he needs to send Timothy, that I may be cheered, he says, when he gets news about them in the same way that they will be cheered when they get news. about Paul, when they receive the letter he’s writing right now. What is it that’s going to cheer him up? Well, it’s specifically hearing how they’re doing in response to the letter. Are they following these exhortations? Are they conducting themselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ? Is there unity in the church where there had been some disunity previously? He says, I hope in the Lord, to send Timothy to you soon. When the biblical writers use the word hope this is very different than how we use the word hope. We use the word hope, in ways like, I hope the cubs are better this year than they were last year. Yeah, I had to be shaved. And we do hope that some of us who are North siders anyway, but there’s no confidence to that one, in fact, probably the opposite of confidence.
What when the biblical writers use the word hope they’re talking about a confident expectation that comes based on their relationship with God and their understanding of his promises. It’s interesting, though, that he says, I hope in the Lord, he uses the phrase in the Lord a lot in this letter. And really, in this section in particular, this is not a throwaway line. This is really serious for Paul, he’s saying, Once he’s saved once he belongs to God, by faith in Christ, everything he does reflects the union that he has with God, in Christ in the Lord. So this is a little bit like a new husband, who’s all of a sudden all of his plans are like, gotta check with the wife. Right? There’s this new relationship in place that transforms how he approaches everything. And that’s what he does here. What a good reminder for us, by the way, that everything we do should be done in the Lord in the Lord and light of that relationship. So Paul has to send someone we know that because he’s in prison, but that hasn’t answered our question of why Timothy specifically? Well, Paul tells us because there he’s got no one else like him, who truly cares about others, in fact that no one like him the word there is like sold. I have no like Soul with me. And what does he mean by that someone who is as passionately concerned about gospel advance, in the Philippians lives elsewhere, as as Paul, now this phrase, genuine concern, it’s a strong word. It’s like borderline worry, anxiety kind of feel. It’s a little bit like a parent who sends a kid off to college, and isn’t really sure where their faith is, and there’s this anxiety, are they going to persist? They’re going to get plugged into a good church, they’re going to find Christian friends on campus, or what are like a pastor who’s looking at a family going through a trial? Will the fires this trial, refine their faith, like gold or burn them, and there’s an anxiety there. And that’s what Paul has here as well. And what he says Timothy has to, so he’s gonna send Timothy because he doesn’t have a lot of options, because most everyone looks to their own interests. Who was he talking about here? Probably people like those rival Roman preachers who were preaching out of selfish ambition to undermine Paul’s authority there in Rome. But it’s interesting, of course, that that phrase looking to their own interests, it’s got echoes of Philippians, two, four, we looked at a few weeks back, and the kids just reminded us of this verse, right, do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, rather, in humility, value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests, but each of you to the interests of the other. This, by the way, is one of the reasons I know that Paul is holding up Timothy and Pafford itis as examples to be followed, the connections between these two texts are too strong to think that he’s doing anything other than going like them like them do like that. But so what’s his point here, not looking to your own interest is hard. And it would seem that few of us actually arrive at that place. It is interesting that it’s set in opposition here to Christ’s interests, everyone looks for their own interest instead of the interests of Christ. Whereas in the passage I just read to for it was looking not within your own interest, but each of you to the interest of others, which I find interesting here, of course, it’s one in the same to look to Christ’s interest is to look to the true interests of others, to see the gospel advance in them as we keep talking about but this is important, this reminder here because it is so easy to speak, Evan Jellicle, and yet have self at the center of your gospel, especially here in the US. You look at the focus that we have on being Being fed, for example, that’s what we come to church to do is to get fed, which means my coming here is for my sake.
We can take this into every nook and cranny of the church, of course. I mean, what is community group? Well, it’s the place where I get my fellowship, which probably means I want to fellowship with people I like, you know, that I kind of get along with so where’s the focus? Me, still me. So there’s this deep irony, that a shallow, superficial understanding of the gospel can actually produce greater self absorption in us, as though God loving me, were the ultimate end of all of this. But Timothy’s example encourages us here. And it is truly an example. Truly an example. But as Paul says, Even the Philippians know, they’ve seen it, they know it’s true, he has proved himself. And that’s interesting. It means that we can actually prove our self forgetfulness, and very self forgetful, by the way, I think I’m stealing from CS Lewis here, but it’s a great line. He says, humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less. That’s what I mean by self forgetful where you’re just like, you fall off your own radar a lot, because you’re so concerned about others and how you can serve them but that self forgetfulness, instead of self absorption should be evident in our actions like it was in Timothy’s life. Because it’s easy to convince ourselves, we’re doing fine. We’re doing okay, when it comes to selflessness. But if you were put on trial for being self forgetful, because you’re so concerned about other people’s needs, would there be enough evidence to convict you? That’s the question Paul’s asking. And by the way, that’s a fair question to ask. Like, what a great question to ask a spouse, a parent, a sibling, a community, group, member, journey, group member, something like that. How am I actually doing my proving myself or not? How is it that Timothy proved himself though he proved himself by serving alongside Paul in the work of gospel advance. Paul uses the word serve there again, has been an important word. That’s how he described himself right away chapter one, verse one, Paul, a servant of Christ. It’s also how you describe Jesus, chapter two, verse seven, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant. So Timothy is being like Christ, and how he acts and he is being like Paul, in fact, Paul says, he’s like my son. Now we hear like my son, and we think relationships. This is a relational description. They’re close, they love one another. And I’m sure that’s all true. But in this ancient Near Eastern mindset, it really is a vocational relationship that’s been talked about here because his son does what his father did. Jesus was a carpenter, because Joseph was a carpenter. That’s just what you do. And so Timothy is following in his spiritual father’s vocational footsteps. He’s like Paul’s apprentice. So Paul’s business cards now read Paul and son. But that’s important, because that means when Timothy does show up, in Philippi, to minister to his church, and he’s got the little business card, Paul and son, he means he can actually represent Paul, well, genuinely, effectively to the Philippians. What a challenge for us though, by the way, because we just saw at the end of last week, that we’re supposed to be children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation children of God. relationally familiarly, yes, but vocationally as well. are we representing God? Well, to the world around us, we are called to be as ambassadors after all.
We certainly see that Timothy is the right man for the job, though. And so Paul hopes to send him once he knows how things are gonna go with him if he’s gonna be released from prison or not, how quickly all of that that’s why he’s not going now, by the way. So he’s not going to send Timothy just yet, because he didn’t want to send Timothy until he actually has some news to report about whether or not Paul is getting out of prison. But he’s confident in the Lord there’s that can biblical hope we shifted from I hope to I’m confident, I’m confident, confident in the Lord that He Himself will follow closely on Timothy’s heels. But what’s our takeaway? What is it that we are imitating? Exactly? We are to imitate Timothy’s self forgetful service, self forgetful service, not looking to his interests. He completely forgot them. They’re just they’re out of his mind entirely, so that he can serve Christ in serving others. He can see that this would be an antidote to Many of the church’s problems today, if we just imitated Timothy, and thus followed Philippians, two, three and four, as the kids reminded us, our attitude should be you first you first write no, really, you go ahead, I don’t mind. So we forget our self, and serve others in Christ. But this is not in our nature, human nature. Anyway, everyone looks out for number one, that’s just kind of how we’re built. And that means it’s very easy for us to deny Christ implicitly by our actions. And so subtly pervert the gospel in the process. Because the gospel does say things like Galatians, to God loved me, and gave himself up for me. And it’s really easy to focus on the object of all those statements, he loves me, give himself up for me. So I must be the important part of this equation. I must be the center of this all and then we begin to live like it. Like I must be the center of the universe, because the Lord of the universe loved me and gave himself up for me, and begin to live like That’s true. The antidote is to see that phrases like that he loved me, he gave himself up for me, which really points to the one who would do that, despite who we are His glory, His love His mercy. What that means, though, his love for us is giving himself up for us means that I’m good. I’m good. I got all I need. I have the love of Christ and the riches of grace. I don’t need anything else I’m totally taken care of. So I can pour myself out. in service of others, like Christ, we empty ourselves. Take the very nature of a servant, which means we should be looking around going whom can I serve? How can I serve? How can I represent Christ here? This starts with an attitude shift. His behavior is going to come from the attitude for sure. This is a waking up, you know, first thing in the morning and consciously handing ourselves over to God. Here’s my day planner. Here’s my pocket book. Here are the keys to the car. Here’s my will. They’re yours, Lord, what would you have me do today? Here’s the way Dietrich Bonhoeffer describes that attitude shift. I love this. He says, We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God. God will be constantly crossing our paths and canceling our plans. Okay. space engineer, God, crossing our path, canceling our plans, how? By sending us people with claims and petitions, we may pass them by preoccupied with our more important tasks, as the priest passed by the man who had fallen among thieves, perhaps reading the Bible. I love that little twist to the dagger, right? Well, I can’t possibly help somebody, I’m too in love with Jesus to do that. When we do that, we pass by the visible sign of the cross raise in our path to show us that not our way. But God’s way must be done. It is part of the discipline of humility, self forgetfulness, that we must not spare our hand where it can perform a service, and that we do not assume that our schedule is our own to manage, but allow it to be arranged by God. These are good words for us. Again, we have the infinite riches of grace. That means we’re good. We can forget our wants. We can forget even our needs, in part because if you’re at all like me, got a hard time distinguishing the two sometimes let yourself fall off the radar and serve others practically speaking, what does that look like? Again? That means going, Lord, here’s my checkbook. Is there somebody I can bless? Learn? Here’s my calendar, my schedule.
Are there margins so that if somebody comes across my path, I can actually minister to them. It’s a little bit like an Old Testament law, you’re supposed to leave the very edges of the fields on harvested so that as travelers were walking, if they were in need, they could grab the grain and eat. Most of us don’t have fields but we can do that with our calendar. Still, you can have the gleanings, you can have the edges the margins of my time. And it’s as simple as praying Lord just opened my eyes to the needs of those around me, because I know how quickly I can get self absorbed. So I need to actively forget myself like Timothy. We’re not going to imitate Timothy were to imitate Epaphroditus as a well, let’s keep reading verses 25 to 30. But I think it is necessary to send back to you a Pafford itis my brother, coworker and fellow soldier, who is also Your Messenger whom you send to take care of my needs. For He longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. Indeed he was though and almost died but God had mercy on him and not on him only but also on me to spare me saw Are upon sorrow. Therefore I’m all the more eager to send him so that when you see him again, you may be glad. And I may have less anxiety. So then welcome him in the Lord with great joy and honor people like him, because he almost died for the work of Christ, He risked his life to make up for the help you yourselves could not give me in contrast to Timothy, who’s coming later, so you can bring news of Paul, Paul knows that he needs to send a Pafford itis now, he needs to head home. Now with this letter, by the way, a Pafford. Itis is the one carrying the letter to the Philippians. So who is a paradise Exactly, we get this five fold description of him. He is in terms of his relationship to Paul, a brother in Christ, and his co worker and even fellow soldiers. So again, somebody who’s working alongside him in Gospel advance, who is he in terms of the Philippians though he is their messenger. And we’re there’s actually apostle by the way, just a good reminder that there’s capital A apostle, there were not many of those, but they’re a little a apostles also. And those are messengers, missionaries, people who get sent to meet a need. And in particular, he was then the one sent to take care of Paul’s very real needs by bringing a financial gift necessary, by the way, because Roman prisoners weren’t given food and things like that. So like he’s bringing cash so that Paul can eat for a little while, all that kind of stuff. So they send him godly, Pafford, itis, presumably fairly young, fairly healthy, because he’s making this 800 mile, somewhat dangerous track to bring the food, the finances to Paul, it’s a big gift that He’s bringing. So almost certainly he is not traveling alone. That’s just not how it would work back.
And somewhere along the journey, probably pretty close to Rome, he falls seriously ill someone in his group, most likely, or maybe it was just somebody heading back the other way, somebody in the group brought back news to Philippi saying a Pafford itis is not doing well. We’re not sure if he’s going to make it. Most likely somebody else stayed with Pafford itis. And they actually complete their journey to actually get to Rome. And this comes at a cost to a Pafford. Itis is a health for sure. But there he Rome, he made it. But just think what that means for the Philippians. The last that they heard was he’s really sick. We’re not sure you’re gonna make it. And they still don’t know there’s no Facebook update at this point. So what exactly is happening with them? That’s that’s the background to all of us. It’s causing them distress. And because of their distress, it’s making a path for datas distress. And so he wants to go home so he can let them know I didn’t die because God had mercy on me. It is so easy by the way to skip past those words. Like they’re pious platitudes, in part because we got modern medicine. But back then when you were at death’s door, you just died. Like that’s often how it went. And so, most likely, we’re dealing here with a miraculous healing, no guarantees, but most likely, that’s what’s happened here. That’s God’s mercy on a path for datas. But Paul says also on me to spare me sorrow upon sorrow, because Paul’s already experiencing sorrow, he’s in prison. He’s being persecuted, there’s a layer of sorrow, one to lose a dear friend and a brother on top of that would be sorrow upon sorrow. What a reminder, by the way, just the deep emotion in the section of Pafford, itis is worried about the Philippians Philippians are worried about him. Paul doesn’t want to lose a friend. These are real people. Like Paul loved his friends, and he would have been grieved if one of them had died. It’s easy to forget that when we’re just reading, you know, black splotches on a page. But these are people. Sidenote, by the way, remember, Paul keeps talking about joy in this letter. In fact, we ended last week by him saying, I rejoice and CO rejoice with you so you should rejoice and CO Rejoice with me. And yet here he’s talking about sorrow upon sorrow. And what a key reminder that sorrow doesn’t preclude joy. Because joy is not the absence of sorrow. It is the reminder that we have the means to rejoice even in the midst of sorrow, because we worship a God who died and yet was raised again and we experienced these little resurrections if I can put it that way, every day. But in light of all of this, Paul’s very eager to send a Pafford itis that they may rejoice at his healing and also so that Paul may have less anxiety because again, Paul’s worried about the Philippians he wants them to get the news of Aphrodite just fine. And then he can take a deep breath as well. But what should they do the Philippians when they see a Pafford itis, they should welcome him how? In the Lord. There’s that same phrase again in the Lord. Just this constant reminder that everything we do we do in light of our relationship to Christ. They should welcome him in the Lord with great joy, great joy at what God has done. This is Psalm 126, verse three, right? The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. But it is a good reminder that when the Lord does great things for us, we should probably pause, thank him, and rejoice consciously in his presence, compose a psalm, or something like that to help it along. But they’re not just to welcome him in the Lord there to honor him as well. The way that today we might welcome are honor soldiers who returned from battle. Of course, that’s not always true. You look at US history, for example, Vietnam vets were not necessarily welcomed and honored when they returned from Vietnam. The same might be true for Christians who served too. And so Paul’s just got the reminder that no, no honor him. Did you notice that it says not just honor him, though, but honor people like him? This has to be ongoing like this is for us as well. We are to honor this is not our strength. It’s not our strength. I think as people certainly as our culture, we find it very difficult to speak words of honor to one another. I’m not sure what the psychology is there. I’m not sure if we assume that there’s a finite amount of honor to go around. And so if we give some to somebody else, and that means less for us, like to praise and others to steal glory from yourself. Maybe I’ve seen that happen with kids, at least you can recall times when we would compliment one of our girls on you have such a beautiful singing voice. And another one I kid you not was like
we did not say and your sister doesn’t like but that’s how we take it almost sometimes. Well, if you said that about her, and must say something about me. No, no, no, that’s not the attitude would have Romans 1210 is the attitude we are to have honor one another above yourselves. Honor one another above yourself. Same phrase, by the way above yourselves that the kids sang for us a moment ago, very similar to Philippians. Two were to outdo one another in showing honor, so that when we see exemplary discipleship, we should call it out. Now we honor them in the Lord, of course. And what that means is just the reminder that this is all of grace. If people look more like Jesus, that because Jesus is working in them, not because they’re so awesome, we still call it out. I have begun to think as a pastor that we need to build this routine into our ministry here a bit more something and this needs to be a regular part of Journey group is a little bit like when you’re trying to establish a new habit and you’ve got your phone alarm set like 18 times a day. Like that’s what we need when it comes to showing honor to people like we need to have a moment built in where we go, pause and honor someone. So that simple, it’s not hard. It’s I saw you stay behind to clean up someone else’s mess. I see God forming Christ in you told us, but that’s what we’re to do. Now, why would the flip Ian’s honor Pafford itis specifically, well, he risked his life for Christ’s sake, to see the gospel advanced by supporting Paul’s ministry. That’s what he’s doing. This is no small thing. By the way, although it’d be easy for us to treat it that way. Because a Pafford itis, at least here in this moment, he’s not preaching. He’s not doing street corner evangelism. He’s carrying money to someone who needs it. But money matters. And so he is doing real work for the Lord here. The Philippians couldn’t all come and tend to Paul’s needs. So a Pafford itis was willing to make up that lack the help that they weren’t able to give, he was willing to. But he did it at a risk to himself. This was risky work, especially once he fell ill he risked his life even more so by completing the arduous journey to Rome to bring the gift to Paul. Most back then, and I think it’s probably still true today. We’re not really willing to risk our lives unless it somehow benefits ourselves. I can think of a few examples that would would contradict that but for the most part, and so that’s what it was back then you would not take a long journey like this and long journeys were just dangerous back then. You wouldn’t take a long journey unless was for a business venture. Like you’d make this trip take this risk if it meant you might make oodles of money. But that’s not what a Pafford itis is doing here. He is completely self forgetful. He is like Christ in that regard. In fact, the same words are used of him that are used of Christ. When it says he almost died woodenly literal translate He won’t be he came near unto death. And those words unto death we just saw two weeks ago, because Jesus Philippians two, verse eight, was obedient unto death, unto death in both cases, and like Christ, Paradise was not doing this for himself, a Christ emptied Himself. He wasn’t grasping for what he could get for himself. And so it is with a path for data so willingly suffered to serve or willingly risked suffering in order to serve. So how do we imitate Epaphroditus? Then we imitate his self, forgetful, suffering, imitate his self forgetful suffering, not that he chose suffering, by the way any more than we would choose suffering. We’re not masochists. That’s not what we’re called to be. But we are willing to risk suffering as we serve God and others. And friends. We have got examples of this happening right now. Diane, Nope, we’re gonna work mission Eurasia, and it’s got missionaries in Ukraine, national workers there and whatnot, posted something that some of the Ukrainian pastors had said, where it’s like, we’re not leaving, we’re not evacuating. If we go, we will be the last ones to leave, because they’re stained attend the flack. That involves risk, right, they’re willing to potentially suffer for the sake of those crisis placed under their care. So how do we do this? Let’s start at the remedial level. So step one anyway, being self forgetful, willing to suffer is don’t make other people suffer. I mean, that I read this quote, this week, it was so good, something Jared Wilson put up on Twitter when he said, be the sort of person that other people don’t have to prepare to be around.
You get that right. So let’s start there don’t be a net negative, so that people feel like they’ve got to almost suffer just to be around you be a net positive. How do we do that? Well, step two, probably still at the remedial level here, at the very least, be willing to be inconvenienced. And let’s not pretend that inconvenience is suffering. It’s not, we haven’t treated that way. But it most certainly is not. But as we saw with Timothy, your agenda, your calendar, your pocket book should not be treated as your own, willing to have people cross your path. That’s okay. You can suffer an abrupt change of plans of miss a stoplight because you let somebody in or take a call, even when you really would just rather have a moment to yourself. But let’s move beyond the remedial. I hope that’s what we’re striving for here. Let’s love and serve at an actual cost to ourselves. This is probably not physical, at least at this point in history here, we probably are not going to risk our physical lives for Christ. But we may have to risk emotionally and spiritually, there may be a cost account there. Maybe this is not even suffering ourselves, by the way, but actually entering into somebody else’s suffering. One of the primary ways that we do this, a lot of times when people are suffering, we go that’s messy. That’s not what we’re called to do. We walk into the mess we talked about last week, even we enter into suffering, and then in Christ, be willing to risk remember, the Pepperdine has risked his life to serve Christ. Are you willing to risk? Rejection? financial loss, the loss of security that comes with it? Are you willing to risk stepping out into the unknown? Perhaps by heading out on the mission field? For example? I don’t know how if I’m gonna be able to adjust a culture or not. Like I don’t know what this will look like. But I’m willing to risk for the sake of Christ. What a great question. By the way to ask ourselves today. When was the last time you risked anything for the cause of Christ? When was the last time you risked anything? We have such comfortable stable lives here? I would guess most of us don’t risk anything ever. Other than maybe a little bit of rejection. If we evangelize, which most of us don’t do, by the way. What could you risk today? Just leave that question hanging over you as you walk out of here this morning, because to advance the gospel, we must emulate Christ and imitate those striving to emulate Christ like Paul, like Timothy, like a path for datas. Follow my example, Paul says I follow the example of Christ. Let’s follow godly examples. But if you want to take it a step further as we close here, let’s not just follow godly examples, let’s be godly examples. Are you willing to say to those around you follow me, as I follow Christ, like, I’ll be the example for you as you do this, that is we shouldn’t just seek to imitate godly examples, we should be willing to be godly examples to follow so steadfastly in the footsteps of Christ that we can say to people, if you walk behind me, I promise you will get closer to Jesus. That’s what we should be doing. And I’m going to say that, by the way to seekers and skeptics now, so if you’re here this morning, and you’re not sure about Jesus, first of all, as I say, every time we’re so glad you’re here, so glad you’re asking these questions with us. We are a community that loves people asking questions. We’re happy to help you find answers. But what I would say to you now is follow us follow our example as we follow Christ, because I think we’ve gotten a lot of Timothy’s and a path for data says, a pepper data path for data in our congregation. What do I mean by that? I mean, they’re not perfect. Not by any means. But they are godly examples, like Timothy and Pafford. Itis, by the way, who are not perfect. You ever just wonder, by the way, like when people would read these letters up front, you know, Pafford itis is there on the congregation and his wife sitting next to him going? Really? He risked his life because of Christ. Cool. couldn’t risk missing the game to do the dishes, but All right, good for him. You know, Timothy and Mr. looks out for everybody else’s interest can’t get his clothes into the hamper. But you know.
And that’s us, that’s us. For sure. Okay, not perfect. Because the example is striving to follow Christ and hopefully you see in us than just a faint shadow of Christ’s glory. But our hope is certainly not that you look at us, but you begin to look over our shoulder, where we’re headed to see the beauty of Christ’s self forgetful love, so perfectly embodied, in His finished work for us, let’s pray. Father, when we think of self forgetfulness, when we think of a willingness to risk to suffer in order to serve, even our enemies, Lord, of course, we think of Christ. And we think of his example, and that’s the example we want to follow. We want to follow in his footsteps. But we know that there are others around us who are doing that and who are maybe a little bit farther down the road than we are. And so Help us, Lord, to keep our eyes fixed on those who live like this, and to learn from them. To see what this looks like lived out in the flesh, in our time and our place and our culture in ways that we can go okay, I see what that means now. But then, Lord, as we see those examples as we try to imitate them, Lord, would You make us into examples ourselves, may people see Christ, dimly reflected in us but reflected in us, and may they be captivated, Lord, not by the beauty of our lies, by the one, in whose footsteps we walk, we pray through Christ our Lord, Amen.