Don’t Feed the Dogs
Emily Teterud – Marketing Coordinator
This week we stepped into a passage in Philippians that gives strong warnings from the author, Paul. It addresses the idea of eclipsing our view of Jesus based on the values we add to Him. In Jeremy’s message, we learn that you cannot add anything to Jesus without diminishing Him.
Who were these warnings for? At first glance, we might think it was directed toward nonbelievers or those who were persecuting the church. But, no! Paul was speaking to Jewish Christians who were mixing in too much of their own agendas with what the Gospel says. In that culture, the issue revolved around circumcision. As a distinctive of their culture, Jews held on tightly to the concept of circumcision as an important stipulation for following Jesus, spanning back to the Old Testament days when that was an important way for the Israelites to set themselves apart from the world. Gentiles who did not hold that as a general value were often looked down upon from the latter group.
As we read the passage of Philippians 3:1-6, we hear clearly Paul’s view on this. He calls the Jews “dogs” and “mutilators of the flesh.” That is some strong language! It would appear from what Paul is saying that the check lists that have begun to pile up around what it means to know and follow Jesus are doing more to harm the body of Christ than good.
We can easily relate this to our culture as we consider the ways we unintentionally eclipse our view of Jesus. What check lists have you made that add to what it means to follow Jesus? Is it a list you use to evaluate others’ relationships with Jesus? Does it contribute to a mindset of tribalism or looking down on others? These are all important questions to ask ourselves. God knows the motives of our hearts, and He also knows that we can get sidetracked and develop a focus on the wrong things!
As we look at our theology, our practices, our standards, apart from the non-negotiable aspects of salvation and who Jesus is, we need to be cautious of how we are presenting faith to others. Because, Paul said it…we might be described as mutilating and distorting the right way to present Jesus to others. I don’t want to be in that camp.
There are three ways Jeremy pointed out we can know someone. We can know facts about someone. We can know someone based on our response to them. And we can know someone from the impact they make on our lives. Which is the most meaningful to you? Which do you think is the most moving and influential when we tell others about Jesus?
In the end of the passage, Paul clarifies his goal in knowing Jesus.
“I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.”
We sing about and celebrate the idea of resurrection! New life! All the good parts of what Jesus has to offer us. But, are we willing to let go of life to make that happen? There can be no resurrection without a loss of life. Luke 9:23 speaks to this concept of denying ourselves and taking up our cross to follow Jesus.
There is great reward in knowing and following Jesus. Let’s remember that reward is Jesus Himself. Nothing else, no heavenly reward, no glory, no victory, is needed beyond us knowing Jesus. It’s my prayer that we will live lives reflecting Jesus and Jesus only! Anything we add will diminish Him and will diminish the message of His Gospel.
Verses from the sermon:
Philippians 3:1-6; 10-14; Colossians 2:15
Alive – Hillsong Music
Resurrecting – Elevation Worship
This I Believe – Hillsong Music
Eyes on Heaven – Central Music