Adopt the Attitude

Some days, attitude is everything.

When you are feeling low, taking on an attitude of hope can help you move forward.

When you’re feeling accomplished, remembering where your blessings come from can shift your attitude from pride to gratitude.

When you’re feeling joy, adopting an attitude of generosity can spread that joy outward.

When you’re feeling despair, remembering that you are NEVER alone can change your attitude toward your situation.

Paul talks a lot about attitude in the book of Philippians. In the fourth chapter, he encourages us to rejoice.

“Rejoice! Again, I say, rejoice!” (Verse 4)

That sounds like a lot of fluff until you remember that he was writing from prison. If his attitude can be one of happiness as he sits behind bars, we can take heart that our attitudes can rise above our circumstances as well.

In today’s passage, Paul lays out a tremendous challenge for us: adopt the attitude of Christ.

Philippians 2 (Common English Bible)

Adopt the attitude that was in Christ Jesus:

Though he was in the form of God,
        he did not consider being equal with God something to exploit.
But he emptied himself
        by taking the form of a slave
        and by becoming like human beings.
When he found himself in the form of a human,
        he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death,
        even death on a cross.

We have talked a lot about obedience during this Lent season: obedience to the call to pray; obedience to the call to give; obedience to the call to study scripture, meditate, confess our sins, and repent; and obedience to whatever it is God is calling us to do.

Paul’s challenge is simple. If the Son of God can be obedient to the point of emptying himself and taking on the form of a slave, we can change our attitudes. Jesus humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death. Where is God calling you to humble yourself?

Therefore, God highly honored him
        and gave him a name above all names,
10     so that at the name of Jesus everyone
        in heaven, on earth, and under the earth might bow
11         and every tongue confess
            that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Soon the day will come when we will all be humbled. Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess Christ as Lord. Until then, adopt the attitude of Christ as you wait. This is the way the kingdom is built.

Every Knee Shall Bow by Bonnie Bennett

Joyful Hospitality

I am teaching a Lent Bible study based on Paul’s letter to the Philippians and this week’s lesson was on joyful hospitality. Hospitality is a very big deal in the Bible. The people depended on it in order to travel in a time before Marriott Courtyards and Airbnbs were available. To be welcomed in, fed, and offered a place to rest was essential. From Abraham and Sarah to the Disciples, hospitality was ingrained in the culture. Because of this practice the gospel spread from town to town and country to country. It is how the church began.

Last week’s lesson was on humility, where we are invited to consider that there is no task too small in serving God. When we combine humility with hospitality we become something very useful to God.

In today’s reading, Paul tells his beloved church that he is planning to send two men to visit them in the near future. He is counting on them to provide their usual joyful, humble attitude and their hospitality. He reminds them of what a joyful church should look like:

Philippians 2 (The Message)

12-13 What I’m getting at, friends, is that you should simply keep on doing what you’ve done from the beginning. When I was living among you, you lived in responsive obedience. Now that I’m separated from you, keep it up. Better yet, redouble your efforts. Be energetic in your life of salvation, reverent and sensitive before God. That energy is God’s energy, an energy deep within you, God himself willing and working at what will give him the most pleasure.

In welcoming others we are reminded to be energetic, reverent, and sensitive before God. What we say, how we say it, and most importantly what we DO reflect God’s presence in our lives.

In class this week a member shared a story of two women in our church who volunteered at a local thrift store when they lived in our community. The thrift store supports a faith-based drug and alcohol recovery program in our community and these women loved the young men who are in the program. They determined that the clothing part of the store was in disarray so they volunteered three days a week to manage that part of the enterprise.

One Monday night at our evening worship one of them mentioned that her back was sore. Her friend asked if they had processed a lot of donations that day and she responded that no, it was sore from scrubbing the toilet at the store that the young men used all day. The humbleness of this task takes my breath away. She was doing her task readily and cheerfully, providing living proof of God’s work in the world. The combination of humility and hospitality in her gesture is the very gospel itself.

14-16 Do everything readily and cheerfully—no bickering, no second-guessing allowed! Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God. Carry the light-giving Message into the night so I’ll have good cause to be proud of you on the day that Christ returns. You’ll be living proof that I didn’t go to all this work for nothing.

What can you do today as a gesture of humility in doing the work of the Lord? Who is God asking you to invite in? What offer of hospitality can you extend to someone that will bring the light-giving love of Christ into their reality?

God calls each one of us to practice the same humility that Christ exhibited as he humbled himself on the cross. We are invited to be invitational in sharing his cross with others in our community.

Go, and do likewise.

All Are Welcome by Jess Spiegelblatt

Flat Bread

My father-in-law has been a widower for eight years. Among the many impressive skills he has acquired in that time is baking. He didn’t have much time to hone this skill in the thirty years that he was serving the country as an active duty Navy officer, but now he has taught himself how to make lovely bread.

The quarantine challenged this recently when his stores of yeast diminished. He found some tucked away in the garage, but like most things tucked away in garages, it perhaps had been there from the time they moved into that house…in the 80‘s. Old yeast is flat yeast, and does not do what yeast was created to do: produce light, raised, airy bread.

1 Corinthians 5 (The Message)

6-8 Your flip and callous arrogance in these things bothers me. You pass it off as a small thing, but it’s anything but that. Yeast, too, is a “small thing,” but it works its way through a whole batch of bread dough pretty fast. So get rid of this “yeast.”

Our true identity is flat and plain, not puffed up with the wrong kind of ingredient. The Messiah, our Passover Lamb, has already been sacrificed for the Passover meal, and we are the Unraised Bread part of the Feast.

So let’s live out our part in the Feast, not as raised bread swollen with the yeast of evil, but as flat bread—simple, genuine, unpretentious.

Paul is being pretty harsh with the church at Corinth. He spends a great deal of this letter chastising them for practices they have adopted which are not in keeping with his teaching. Particularly in this instance, he is reprimanding them for their “puffed up boasting” in the resurrection. Humility is the way, he counsels. Christ looks for followers who are simple, genuine, and unpretentious.

Can you think of a time in your life where your arrogant boasting got you into trouble? Did you suffer the consequences of your own puffed up ego? Are you suffering from someone’s narcissism, and feeling the pain of being around a person who thinks way more highly of themselves than they ought? And by default, seems to think nothing of you?

The Enemy just loves flattery. So do we. When we allow ourselves to be puffed up, we lose sight of everything that has value: simplicity, selflessness, genuine caring for others, and the humble attitude that our Savior took on.

So be like Jesus. Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord, and HE will lift you up. Quit believing your own press, and look outside of yourself.

Humility and servanthood are the best kinds of yeast we can spread throughout our community. When people see THAT kind of bread, they can’t wait to get to the table.

Bread from the Holy Land by Michelle Baker