Mentors & Foot Washing

Philippians 3:15-21
Teaching Segment Notes
by Randell Neudorf
Sunday, June 17th , 2012

Philippians 3:15-21 (NIV)

15 All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16 Only let us live up to what we have already attained.

17 Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do.18 For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

As we read through any book in the bible its hard trying to keep the book as a whole in mind, but it is often important to remember what we read the week before. Our passage today starts with All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things.” Jen did a great job last week talking about the first half of Chapter 3. We were talking about how Paul changed his mind about outward expressions like circumcision and following a set group of laws and rules. At one time he was so set on these rules and laws that he killed people who were following Jesus instead of following the rules he loved. Paul has a dramatic conversion and begins to follow Jesus himself. He uses himself as the prime example of someone who ought to enforce the rules and the legalism that he himself was raised in. But Paul has a change “But what ever was my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.” Paul goes on to say that he wants the faith and righteousness that comes from Jesus, that he wants to be like Jesus, so much so that he wants to die like Jesus and be reborn, resurrected like Jesus.

So Paul is saying that if you are mature, if you are growing to be more like Jesus you aren’t going to force people to follow the rules and symbols that have nothing to do with living like Jesus.

I really like when Paul writes “And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.” Paul knows that it is God that ultimately teaches people, and if there is a disagreement between how to live, that this isn’t going to be sorted out by individual ideas being forced on each other. There are going to be differences between people who follow Jesus but Paul goes on to say, “ Only let us live up to what we have already attained.” We are on a journey and we are learning all along the way. We are responsible to act on what we have learned to this point. If I think back to the journey of this community, we have been learning some things along the way ourselves, and it is important that we act on these lessons. I can think of a couple simple examples.

  • When this community started, Freewayers lived all over the city and surrounding towns. There were people on the mountain, in the west end, in Grimbsby, a few downtown and a few in the east end. And that was OK for those people in that moment. They journeyed together and they ended up meeting on Sundays downtown. People were all individually feeling like God wanted them to move into the lower city of Hamilton. People did that and it seemed that their geography was tied to their spirituality. We always said we valued community but we began to realize that being in deep community required a physical closeness, it was being so committed to each other that we wanted to live near to each other, and near to our friends who already lived down town. For many of the people who made these moves would find it hard to imagine being elsewhere, not just because they love their city but because they feel like God wants them here. This is something we learned and need to live up to.
  • We also have learned that everyone has something to contribute, everyone’s voice counts and that everyone is valuable. We always believed this as a community but it has been lived out better and worse at different times. It is something we need to be always aware of and protect. Sometimes it is letting someone try something new even if they fail, sometimes it is stepping out of our comfort zone and befriending someone who is completely different from our self. It is inviting everyone into the circle with an expectation of participation. We need to do this even if it is harder or more awkward then just letting some people be viewers and others be participants. This is something we have learned as a community and it would be wrong for us not to act on it.

Paul often gets criticized for using himself as an example, but I want to extend Paul the benefit of the doubt here. Perhaps Paul doesn’t refer to himself because he has a messiah complex but maybe he uses himself as an example because he is drawing on his own experiences and it is always easier to talk about your own stories instead of sharing someone else’s story and getting in trouble. If you are telling someone else’s stories you should get their permission so you aren’t exploiting them and their story.  Keeping that in mind as Paul says  17 Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do.18 For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things.” Paul knows there are lots of bad examples out there, that just because someone belongs to a church or is successful in the traditional sense (job, money, stability, etc…) doesn’t mean that they are a good example, they might be a little too close to the world for us to see Jesus’ Values. It sounds to me like Paul is suggesting that the Philippians need to look for good mentors, people who are mature examples of following Jesus. We all need to find these people to help us be more like Jesus ourselves. I know we have mentors in this room. Everyone is farther along on their journey in some way then someone else. I would also hope that everyone has had someone that they look to as a mentor (it could be a friend, teacher, family member, neighbour…).

  • Does anyone have an example of someone who has been good Mentor to them? Someone who has taught you how to be a little more like Jesus.
    (A number of people shared stories about the Goodyears, and other family and friends.)

Philippians Chapter 3 ends with 20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”

Our Citizenship is in heaven, we are part of the kingdom, we are not pattern are lives after the empire but are to follow our king so much so that we are going to become like our King.

When we look to mentors they are suppose to point us to Jesus. They are to follow His example. I was thinking about this and there are lots of huge examples Jesus set for us, the biggest of which was Jesus teaching us about sacrifice through His Death. I was thinking about this idea of sacrifice and mentors and we as a church have kind of found a collective mentor for ourselves. We are in the process of joining the Mennonite Church Canada and as I was thinking of them as a mentor, I thought of a practice that they do that. Apparently the Mennonite Church uses foot washing as a reminder of following Jesus’ example of being a servant, of putting others before yourself.

  • We then proceeded in our first foot washing. Click Here to check out Susan Suzuki’s thoughts on the experience.