If… Then

IF Christ, then… What?

if... Then

“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.” (Philippians 2:1-2 NIV) These verses make an interesting checklist, with (to me) a somewhat unexpected and unusual outcome. The book of Philippians is often called Paul’s love letter to the church at Philippi, and his affection and encouragement are evident throughout. This short list of “if—then’s” is worthy of consideration. Paul says that if you are united with Christ, then there are natural results or consequences. The first question we’d probably have to ask is, “how do I become united with Christ?” Jesus taught his disciples about this in John 15, where he declared, “I am the vine and you are the branches.” He goes on to tell them that in order to live and to bear fruit, they need to abide in him, remain in his love, and keep his commands. Paul says here that this kind of relationship with Christ has results.

Once Jesus is invited, and once that spark is lighted,

Your growth will be ignited, and you can be excited

By the qualities provided to those who are united.

So, ask yourself: If I have a relationship with Jesus, does it ENCOURAGE me? Do I find COMFORT in his love? Does knowing Jesus provide me fellowship and COMMON GROUND with other believers? Has it made me more COMPASSIONATE and TENDER-HEARTED? If I am a follower of Jesus, then I feel encouraged, Check. Comforted, Check. The love and support of other believers, Check. Tenderness, Check. Compassion, Check! Completing that checklist will help you determine if you are properly connected to the vine. And yes, those times when we are impatient, rude, and selfish we probably aren’t “united with Christ” as Paul here describes (it’s not a salvation issue wherein we lose the saving relationship of faith, but rather a Lordship issue where we reclaim control and do things in the flesh apart from his love and leadership…) Paul says here that if we stay connected to Christ, these amazingly good things will be part of our daily experience. I saw a Facebook post the other day that advised adding “With a Chainsaw” to various book or movie titles, and it had some mildly humorous results. In this Philippians 2 list of “ifs”, Paul is advising us to add “IN CHRIST” to the solutions we seek for our everyday cares and worries. Life been tough lately? Be encouraged IN CHRIST! Feeling blue? Find comfort IN CHRIST. Impatient or frustrated with others? Find compassion and tenderness IN CHRIST. All of this, he says, will have a somewhat surprising result. Folks who are in Christ will be one in spirit, loving, and like-minded. Have you noticed all the divisiveness in our society? We are driven by opposite agendas full of selfishness and hate. Black versus white. Gay versus straight. Muslim versus Christian. Pro-Abortion versus Pro-Life. Red versus Blue. Rich versus poor. Crooks versus Cops. Paul says there’s an easy answer to all this division. Our nation, indeed our own hearts will never heal and come together through debate, or political action, or tolerance, or protest, or violence. We will only find unity in the healing power of the gospel. Contentious, hateful, divided? Find unity IN CHRIST.

“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.” (Philippians 2:1-2 NIV) These verses make an interesting checklist, with (to me) a somewhat unexpected and unusual outcome. The book of Philippians is often called Paul’s love letter to the church at Philippi, and his affection and encouragement are evident throughout. This short list of “if—then’s” is worthy of consideration. Paul says that if you are united with Christ, then there are natural results or consequences. The first question we’d probably have to ask is, “how do I become united with Christ?” Jesus taught his disciples about this in John 15, where he declared, “I am the vine and you are the branches.” He goes on to tell them that in order to live and to bear fruit, they need to abide in him, remain in his love, and keep his commands. Paul says here that this kind of relationship with Christ has results.

Once Jesus is invited, and once that spark is lighted,

Your growth will be ignited, and you can be excited

By the qualities provided to those who are united.

So, ask yourself: If I have a relationship with Jesus, does it ENCOURAGE me? Do I find COMFORT in his love? Does knowing Jesus provide me fellowship and COMMON GROUND with other believers? Has it made me more COMPASSIONATE and TENDER-HEARTED? If I am a follower of Jesus, then I feel encouraged, Check. Comforted, Check. The love and support of other believers, Check. Tenderness, Check. Compassion, Check! Completing that checklist will help you determine if you are properly connected to the vine. And yes, those times when we are impatient, rude, and selfish we probably aren’t “united with Christ” as Paul here describes (it’s not a salvation issue wherein we lose the saving relationship of faith, but rather a Lordship issue where we reclaim control and do things in the flesh apart from his love and leadership…) Paul says here that if we stay connected to Christ, these amazingly good things will be part of our daily experience. I saw a Facebook post the other day that advised adding “With a Chainsaw” to various book or movie titles, and it had some mildly humorous results. In this Philippians 2 list of “ifs”, Paul is advising us to add “IN CHRIST” to the solutions we seek for our everyday cares and worries. Life been tough lately? Be encouraged IN CHRIST! Feeling blue? Find comfort IN CHRIST. Impatient or frustrated with others? Find compassion and tenderness IN CHRIST. All of this, he says, will have a somewhat surprising result. Folks who are in Christ will be one in spirit, loving, and like-minded. Have you noticed all the divisiveness in our society? We are driven by opposite agendas full of selfishness and hate. Black versus white. Gay versus straight. Muslim versus Christian. Pro-Abortion versus Pro-Life. Red versus Blue. Rich versus poor. Crooks versus Cops. Paul says there’s an easy answer to all this division. Our nation, indeed our own hearts will never heal and come together through debate, or political action, or tolerance, or protest, or violence. We will only find unity in the healing power of the gospel. Contentious, hateful, divided? Find unity IN CHRIST.

 

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