Faithboo–Biblical Lessons for the Digital Age: “About”

Faithbook–Biblical Lessons for the Digital Age: “About”
A Message on Philippians 2:1-10

For Jacksonville First United Methodist Church
July 29, 2018
By Doug Wintermute
dwinterm@yahoo.com

 

Philippians 2:1-10 (NRSV)


2 If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, 2 make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. 5 Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,

6 who, though he was in the form of God,
   did not regard equality with God
   as something to be exploited,
7 but emptied himself,
   taking the form of a slave,
   being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
8     he humbled himself
   and became obedient to the point of death—
   even death on a cross.
9 Therefore God also highly exalted him
   and gave him the name
   that is above every name,
10 so that at the name of Jesus
   every knee should bend,
   in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

 

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Today we are beginning a new sermon series titled, “Faithbook: Biblical Lessons for Life.”  Now notice I said “FAITHbook, not Facebook.” It’s a play on words where we will–hopefully–use some of the common aspects of Facebook to look at how the Bible gives us insight and instruction in those particular areas.

 

Today we are going to start with the subject of “About.” For those not familiar with Facebook, when you look at someone’s “home page” there is an option to select titled “About.” When you click it you are sent to another page where things are listed “about” that person. Some of these things include “Work,”, “Education,” “Places Lived,” “Contact Info,” Basic Info,” “Other Names,” “Relationships,” “Family Members,” “Life Events,” “Friends,” “Photos,” “Check-ins,” “Sports,” “Music,” “TV Shows,” “Likes,” “Events,” and “Reviews.”

 

That section allows us to post things “about” us. It gives details that define us, that let others know of the multiple facets of our life, both historically and in the present.

 

It’s kind of like an electronic resume of our life, isn’t it? It is a definition of who we are.

 

Our “Faithbook,” the Bible, gives us definitions of who we are as Christians, as followers of Jesus Christ. Our scripture that we read today gives one of the most beautiful ones, in my opinion, that exists in the Bible.

 

The book of Philippians is a letter written by the apostle Paul to the believers in Philippi, a city in what was then Macedonia and what is now northern Greece. Paul and Timothy (and perhaps Luke) had visited the city around 49-51 AD during Paul’s second missionary journey and helped establish a group of believers there. It became one of the first, if not the first church, in Europe.

 

The letter to the Philippians was written about 10 years later, around 61 AD. The church there was very generous in supporting Paul in his missions, even though many of the church members were very poor.

 

In the section from Philippians that we read today, Paul is addressing some of the issues the church in Philippi was facing.

 

Believe it or not, even people in the early church didn’t agree on things. There were squabbles and debates and even downright arguments about theological matters as well as things non-theological. (Isn’t it sad to think that the church still having those still kind of issues now, several thousand years later?)

 

So the church was having issues, and Paul is basically telling them to stay focused on what is important and not to be distracted by the disagreements and squabbles.

 

In the previous chapter we hear Paul give kind of an overview of this advice: “Only, live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that, whether I come and see you or am absent and hear about you, I will know that you are standing firm in one spirit, striving side by side with one mind for the faith of the gospel, and are in no way intimidated by your opponents.” (Philippians 1:27-28)

 

In chapter 2, the first part of which we read today, He continues in this theme. In East Texas we might summarize it something like, “Straighten up and fly right.”

 

Paul was  correcting the church members at Philippi for not living into their identity as followers of Jesus Christ. The followers of Jesus, which we call Christians, have their primary identity in Jesus Christ.

 

The same is true today. As followers of Jesus Christ we have an identity we are called to live into.

 

To use the Facebook analogy what will people who look at our “about” section in Facebook be able to know about Jesus Christ? How does our Facebook reflect Jesus Christ?

 

One of the negative aspects of Facebook is what is called “Facebook Depression.” It happens when we start comparing our lives with other people based on what they post on Facebook. We see the fabulous exotic vacations, the awards and the honors, the perfect children, and all the good things that people post. Instead of seeing those and being happy for those that post them we think that our lives are somehow not as valuable because we don’t do all those things or go those places.

 

What we fail to realize is that–as a general rule–people don’t post negative things about themselves on Facebook! You don’t see before and after photos if someone gains 20 pounds. You don’t see posts like “We’re living beyond our means so much that we are in serious financial trouble and are considering bankruptcy.” You don’t see anyone write, “Our marriage is stuck in a rut and we’re only staying together for the sake of the kids.”

 

You’re getting only half the information. People don’t post their whole identity on Facebook, only those things that are positive.

 

But as Christians our whole identity should be focused on Jesus Christ. Now it’s not easy. It’s hard. Real hard. But it’s the right thing to do according to our “Faithbook.”

 

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus…” (Philippians 2:3-5)

 

Here’s The Message paraphrase of those verses: “If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand. Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself.”

 

Okay, so let’s think about this for a minute. If we are to think of ourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself, what does that mean?

 

Well let’s look at it from our Facebook analogy: What would Jesus put in the “About” section if he had a Facebook page?

 

Work: Savior.

 

Education: Traditional 1st Century Jewish Education, but knows all things.

 

Places Lived: Bethlehem, Egypt, the Holy Land

 

Contact Info: savior@jesussaves.com, Available by prayer 24-7

 

Other Names: Messiah, Emmanuel, Christ, Lord, Master, Logos (The Word), Son of God, Lamb of God, etc.

 

Relationships: Seeks relationship with everyone. Unconditional love for everyone.

 

Family Members: Mary (mother), Joseph (earthly father), God (Father), James (step brother).

 

Life Events: Born in Bethlehem. Family moved to Egypt and then to Nazareth. Began ministry at 30 years old. Crucified at age 33.

 

Friends: Twelve disciples, billions of followers

 

Check-ins: Barn in Bethlehem, Egypt, Nazareth, Galilee, Jerusalem, Calvary

 

Likes: Obedience, Love, Compassion, The Texas Rangers (Okay, maybe not the Rangers…)

 

Events: Crucified on Calvary, Resurrected three days later. Ascended into Heaven.

 

You get the idea? Now, how well does your “about” page match up with Jesus’? “About” how much are you like Jesus’? Hmmmm?

 

What it really comes down to is how do we live in the tension between God’s world and the world we live in?

 

Our world says to look out for yourself, but God’s world says to regard others a better than ourselves and to put the interest of other people before our own.

 

Our world says it’s what on the outside the counts, while God’s world says that it isn’t the outward appearance but what is inside a person that counts.

 

Our world says that what you put on Facebook defines you, that it is what others think about you that is important. God’s world says that we should have the same mind in us as Christ Jesus, living humble, obedient lives filled with love for God and love for each other.

 

So my challenge to you this week is to reflect on what your life is “about.” What defines who you are? What is more important to you, the “about” section of Facebook or your relationship with Jesus Christ as a Christian? Jesus gave his life on the cross not so we could be self centered and do just whatever feels right, but that we could have treasures beyond this world, treasures different than what our world has to offer. They are treasures which allow us to be the presence of Jesus Christ in our world.

 

There is a group call Citizen Way that has a song out titled “Evidence.” The lyrics say this:

 

It’s not a flag on a field
It’s not a sign in my yard
Not a cause that I join
Not a phrase on a coin
It’s the change in my heart

Mercy and grace and compassion
They’re only words without action

I need hands that are open
Reaching out to broken hearts
Cuz’ that’s the only way this world
Will ever know who You are
Love is the evidence
Love is the evidence

Might be the pain that you share
Might be the time that you spend
Or the war you don’t fight
Backing down from your pride
After all in the end

My life wasn’t changed by an argument
That never would have been enough
My life was changed by the evidence of love

 

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.

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