We RISE through the Application of the Gospel.
The third message in the series entitled RISE.
(Find the other messages from this series here)
In 1980 the US Olympic Hockey team shocked the word by winning gold by beating Russia. They had entered the Olympics as the 12th seed. Not long before, the Russians had beaten the US NHL All-Star team. This Olympic team was made up of college kids because at that time, Olympians had to be amateurs- non professionals. As the game ended, Al Michaels the announcer said,
“DO YOU BELIEVE IN MIRACLES!?”
The upset inspired a movie entitled Miracle. The movie tells the story of how this group of college kids beat the dominant Russian team and shocked the world. It begins with the coach selecting the players and people question the roster that he is putting together because he’s leaving off some of the very best college players. He responds by saying, “I’m not looking for the best players. I’m looking for the right players.”
After a poor exhibition game the coach has all the players go back out on the ice and he asks them who they play for, they each respond with the college team that they belong too. He makes them do sprints. Then he asks again. He makes them do sprints.
Finally, one player says, I play for the USA and he lets them hit the showers. He wanted them to see that they were a team, they were a unit, that they had to play like the USA team, not a conglomeration of individuals. The style and strategy of play for the US team was going to be different from that of their college teams. They were going to have to align if they would be a powerful team.
By bonding and coming together as a unit, they rose above their level of play and they even rose above the Russian level of play- they rose to the gold.
Here at our church, we don’t have the very best players. I’m not the best preacher. You can get online and find a host of preachers that do a better job than me. You can go elsewhere in this community and find better preachers than me, I know because some people have done it.
I do believe that we have the right people here. I believe that God has given us and will give us exactly the right people to accomplish His call on us as a church. I believe that together, enabled by the Spirit of God we can RISE to the challenges that face our community.
I believe that together we can RISE to accomplish our vision of building the church our neighbors will join and our children will lead.
I believe that together we can RISE to realize our dream of letting every child know that God loves them and has a beautiful plan for their life.
I believe that together we can RISE to realize our dream that addiction will be a painful memory in Chandler’s past instead of a ever present reality.
but we must rise together…
Paul called the Philippians to RISE with him. To follow him upward. Let’s look at that together. We’ll start in verse 12 which we have already covered but it will keep us in context as we move forward.
Read Philippians 3:12-17 Did you pick up on all the uses of “us?” Let me highlight them for you very quickly-
Let us therefore, be thus minded
let us walk by the same rule,
let us mind the same thing.
Then in verse 17 he uses this really important word. “be followers together of me” – TOGETHER
Paul just called all those growing, or all who wanted to RISE, to follow his lead, walk together, and find good examples.
Now before we jump into this, I need to clarify something. Paul has made a great deal about the fact that he is not perfect. He says,
v.12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect:
v.13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended:
Remember who Paul is dealing with, he is dealing with people who said if you’ll believe in Jesus and keep these extra laws then you’ll be really saved. He was calling out these people who were saying they had the secret of real Christianity.
He was calling out people who were saying to other believers, you’re not a real Christian until you do X, Y, and Z like us. Remember we looked at the order of three steps last week. They were saying,
1. I believe and
2. I obey and then
3. I am saved
Paul said, 1. I believe and 2. I’m saved so 3. I obey…
If you approach it from I believe and I obey so I am saved, you think highly of yourself… You’re pretty proud of yourself. Paul said I believe and I’m saved so I think highly of God- I glory in Jesus…
Now remember that when Paul said that you believe in Jesus that you are made RIGHT- you have the righteousness of God through Jesus…
So Paul has said, I’m not perfect and those who are telling you’ve got to do this stuff to be perfect like them, they’re wrong, so when he gets to this part where he wants to call everyone together, to rise together, to answer the high call of Jesus together, he says, Now all of us who are perfect…
Paul was being a little sarcastic here. He was calling all those who were supposedly perfect out and he was calling those made perfect in Christ up to RISE. This lights on a really important issue-
Perfect people don’t make progress.
If you’re here and you’re not committed to growing closer to Christ and rising up, it might be because that you think you have arrived and Paul has a word for you in this passage, he says in very 15…
and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.
Some of you, the best gift that God could give you this year is if God gave a fresh new perspective on how much progress you could stand to make…
So let’s say that you want to RISE, you want to grow. How can we do that? Well the emphasis here is that we need to RISE together. However, for us to walk together, we’ve got to be going in the same direction.
Paul made it clear how this happens, for us to walk together in the same direction we need to be willing to follow. To Rise, we must follow.
- To RISE, we follow.
Paul makes a pretty stark and seemingly arrogant command in verse 17: “be followers together of me.”
Paul recognized his place as the apostle and leader. He recognized his place as the one who was to lead the people, and while he wasn’t arrogant – he just spent a paragraph making it clear he wasn’t perfect and hadn’t arrived, he did know that someone had to lead.
Paul wasn’t saying that he was perfect, but he was saying that he was called to lead, that he was called to show the way.
Paul didn’t take that responsibility lightly. He speaks elsewhere about what a burden it is to him. However, he answered that call to lead.
If you are going to rise, you are going to need to submit to some leadership in your life. You are going to need to recognize that you need someone to show you the way. You need a mentor, you need a pastor, you need a teacher, you need someone to show you the way and you need to submit to their leadership and listen to their counsel.
Some of you want to check in on Sunday mornings to do your Jesus thing and then check back out and continue to do your own thing throughout the week.
What is the very essence of the Christian life? What did Jesus tell everyone that he came in contact with that wanted to learn, everyone who came to Him with questions…
Every time that meant laying aside something. Leaving behind something. Walking away from something.
He came to Peter and said, leave your nets and follow me.
He came to Paul and said, walk away from your position in the temple and follow me.
Some of ya’ll are hoping Jesus will give you a ride to where you want to go and it doesn’t work like that… Jesus is not a taxi to get you where you want to be, He’s a train on a track headed toward the glory of God and if you want to come along, you’re going to follow His path, not yours.
Every time you’ve struck out on your own, you’ve ended up going downhill. You’ve ended up in places you shouldn’t be. To get somewhere new, you need to follow Jesus.
To Rise, you’ve got to follow Him and those that he has called to lead you.
2. To RISE, we walk together
v.17 “be followers together of me” – TOGETHER
Paul knew that there must be alignment and unity among the church, Paul knew that those that were coming in with these false teachings were driving wedges in between the people.
Paul knew that these divisions were bad for the church as a whole but also bad for each of the member individually as well.
Paul wanted them to be part of a group that was growing closer to Jesus, he wanted them to be surrounded by people that were headed in the same direction, helping them get closer and closer to Jesus.
The heart behind this whole passage can bee seen if you look back one chapter in 2:2-4
2Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.
3Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
4Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
Then he goes on to say in verse 12
12Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
14Do all things without murmurings and disputing:
Isolation & contention are more than frustrating, they’re dangerous.
You need the church because living this Christian life is difficult, there is temptation all around & adversity of some sort is a constant.
Paul makes it clear that he is concerned for the Philippians because in verse 18 he alludes to those that would not follow, and now do not remain.
18 For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:
19 Whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.
We must walk together to RISE, but it’s not as though if we fail to walk together we remain motionless. We will fade back or we will walk off…
Unity and alignment are essential.
This isn’t just some nice addition to the Christian life, it’s necessary. It’s what Christ intended. It envisioned His people on mission together.
What I’ve tried to emphasize these last couple of months is
Grow in a Group.
Serve on a Team.
You need to grow in a group, you need to serve on a team because we are called to RISE together!
Have you ever seen Geese flying in formation?
They fly in a V and they honk incessantly.
There’s a reason for this…
When Geese fly in formation, they use less energy, flap their wings less, and have lower heart rates because the formation is aerodynamically beneficial. If you followed a pack of geese as some researchers have, you would see that they rotate who is in the lead. They fall back when they’re tired allowing another to take the lead.
They honk incessantly letting the leader know they are still with him or her because the leader can’t see behind and he or she is facing the headwind alone…
With this teamwork, Geese fly 70% farther together than they do alone.
Thom Rainer who researches churches found that people who became involved in a group of some sort were 5 times as likely to still belong to the church 5 years later than someone who merely attended worship services.
You know what’s else is helpful about the V formation for geese, they can see one another. They’re in a formation that lets the goose in the very back see all the geese in the formation, even up to the leader.
One article I read even said that if a Goose becomes ill or injured and has to drop out of formation, 2 other geese will drop out as well and stay until the goose is well enough to resume or dies.
When we move out of rows into circles, you can literally and figuratively see people in a new light.
You can keep an eye out for one another.
We have greater capability to keep up with one another and watch out for one another than ever before.
Years ago you only knew how people were doing when you ran into them at the store, now you can know how their doing every minute of every day, but a report by Dr Rebecca Harris, a Psychology lecturer at the University of Bolton, shows that we are more isolated and lonely than ever before.
In case you needed a little extra motivation, that same report said that loneliness has a worse effect on your health than smoking a pack of cigarettes per day.
If you had to choose between plugging into a Bible Study Group and quitting smoking, do both- but I’d bet that joining a group is easier than quitting cigarettes.
To Rise, we follow.
To Rise, we walk together.
3.To RISE, we find good examples.
Paul wouldn’t always be there and he couldn’t be there for everyone even when he was there in Philippi. It was important that the people find good example and leaders that they could follow. They needed to be on the lookout so that they could surround themselves with people who will help them RISE, who would help them follow Christ.
Paul says, mark for yourselves examples who walk as us…
This word “example” is literally “an impression” and it’s used in the gospels when the disciples see the imprint of the nails in Jesus’ hands and feet.
When we use the word impress today, we often think of someone who “wows” us but really the meaning is someone who leaves an impression on us or someone who makes a mark in our lives-
When a crime is committed and police want to find the culprit, they’ll often dust for “prints,” because fingerprints leave a unique impression on surfaces that they come in contact with…
If you could dust your life for prints, what kind of people would you find had made an impression on you?
Paul was writing to the Philippians because they had been influenced by some false teachers and proud hypocrites. He wanted them to get plugged into life in the church and be influenced by solid leaders and humble examples.