So then, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence but even more in my absence, continue working out your salvation with awe and reverence, for the one bringing forth in you both the desire and the effort – for the sake of his good pleasure – is God. Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God without blemish though you live in a crooked and perverse society, in which you shine as lights in the world. – Philippians 2:12-15
Therefore, if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort provided by love, any fellowship in the Spirit, any affection or mercy, complete my joy and be of the same mind, by having the same love, being united in spirit, and having one purpose. Instead of being motivated by selfish ambition or vanity, each of you should, in humility, be moved to treat one another as more important than yourself. Each of you should be concerned not only about your own interests, but about the interests of others as well. You should have the same attitude toward one another that Christ Jesus had – Philippians 2:1-5
Hebrews 13:17 is quite hard for some preachers to preach on. And even more so hard for the congregation to follow. The reason is that there are abusive leaders and that we don’t want to have someone in authority over us. We live in democracy. We are concerned primarily with our freedom and our profit. Here I will present first a balance view of church leadership and how the congregation should respond to the call for obedience and submission, and second, the motivation behind this, namely Joy.
As we approach the celebration of Christmas, the birth of our saviour and Lord Jesus Christ, I think it is only fitting to discuss something about him. In the synoptic gospels we will find generally what is the human portrait of the Christ. That is not to say that they are silent about Christ’s deity. But compared to John’s gospel account, they only present to us vignettes of truths about Christ’s divine nature. Matthew begins his gospel with a genealogy tracing Christ’s kingly line. Mark didn’t bother to trace his lineage, instead he starts with Christ’s service, his ministry. Luke does account for us Christ’s genealogy, a human ancestry, pointing to the fact that he is the seed of the woman in Genesis 3, but Luke didn’t begin there. He starts with the birth of a man, John the baptist. But the closest to Jesus, apostle John starts with the very beginning. In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.
In a gospel that more specifically deals with the deity of Christ, you wouldn’t expect to have an introduction about a mere man right in the middle while introducing Jesus Christ as the Light. Verses 6-8 is very odd for me. First because it seems abrupt. Second because it’s hard to relate with the rest of the passage. What’s the point of bringing up John the baptist? At first glance it seems anticlimactic. So how does it relate to the preceding and following verses?
1.The contrast between a man and God – verses 6-8 is not a useless interruption. John is describing for us the Light by telling us who John the baptist is not. He is not the Light. Hence by implication, everything that was said about him, a mere man, is not the Light.
2.Our calling as a witnesses to the Light
-God uses means that would testify about the Light
-We are the means by which God would grant faith to others