Saturday, March 27, 2010

Sunday Lectionary Devotions: Passion Sunday: Christ's Choice - Philippians 2 v 5

Philippians 2:5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

Sometimes I wonder how Paul would have fared in today’s world. He comes across as being too sure of himself and I don’t know whether he is rebuking his readers or encouraging them.

Take this morning’s small verse, for instance. Paul begins by stating, ‘Your attitude should be…;’ he doesn’t write could be or might be – Paul insists that our attitudes should be – that’s pretty strong stuff for a preacher to be expressing. That meddles directly with how we manage our faith.

If Paul was around today, he would probably get thrown out of a lot of churches for preaching such a controversial and confrontational message. He would be emotionally tarred and feathered by an outraged congregation, especially one of those ‘you’re okay, I’m okay, everybody’s okay’ type of churches.

When I question Paul’s no nonsense Christianity, I’m reminded of two things: firstly, my own failures as a Christian in trying to be a perfect servant of God; and secondly, Paul’s unquestionable right to state such things. After all, Paul was no cozy theologian who sat in an Ivy League study asking hypothetical questions. He was a diehard Christian who had been almost lynched, battered and bruised, hunted and harassed, stoned and shipwrecked, tortured and tried for his faith in Jesus. If anyone had the right to meddle in our lives and to state things like ‘Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus,’ it surely was Paul.

As a pastor, I come across many people who are hostile to Paul’s teachings, but do you know what? I’ve still to come across one of his ardent critics who has experienced any real persecution.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, sometimes we forget that it was You who personally intervened and dramatically converted Paul on the road to Damascus. Too easily, we cast him aside because his certain faith makes our own beliefs seem shallow and pale. Help us to look again to Paul’s teaching and remind us that he was Your choice. In Your Holy Name, we humbly pray. Amen.

John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to comment on today’s message, please send him an email to

Today's image is a Celtic drawing that John designed for Erin Church's Youth Group to wear on their T-shirts at Montreat this summer. He calls it Celtic Peace. 

Síocháin (she-ock-awn) - Celtic word for Peace. This is a T-shirt design for our church Youth. Celtic braid, Celtic Cross, Peace Sign and liturgical colors all incorporated...:)

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