The “I” in Community

Introduction
 
  1. We are all unique and it’s a gift from God. We are all joined together with others, who are also unique individuals so that we can form one body of Christ, the church.
  2. Our individuality should not be diminished. Instead, it should be celebrated and affirmed in the church.
  3. However, as Philippians 2:3-4 teaches us, we must guard against the sin of individualism. Individualism is a distortion of our individuality. It’s worldly, and it’s not from God.
  4. To be stronger together, we must learn how to practice our individuality without falling into the sin of individualism.
  5. Although we have the right to decide on our own, our decisions can and will affect others also. That’s why we need to consider three things whenever we are deciding something in relation to the body of Christ (the church).
THREE CONSIDERATIONS
 
1. Think about your MOTIVATIONS.
 
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.
 
Paul mentioned “selfish ambition” in Phil 1:17 also. There he is referring to false preachers who are only interested in themselves, not Paul. They don’t care how Paul or others might be affected by what they are doing, even though they are doing some form of ministry also. “Vain conceit” is a term found only here in the NT. Selfish ambition and vain conceit are often hidden motivations, not seen by others but known to God. We must think about our motivations whenever we are deciding something that might affect the body of Christ. We must let the Holy Spirit examine our hearts.
 
2. Think about the IMPLICATIONS.
 
Rather, in humility value others above yourselves…
 
The word “others” here should actually be translated as “one another.” It is referring to the relationships that exist in the body of Christ. In other words, Paul wants the believers in Philippi to consider how their actions might affect their relationship with one another. In a world often characterized by either repeated rejection or assault, our actions can speak louder than words. It can either affirm or put into question the kind of relationship that we think we might have with each other. When you think you have a close relationship with someone, a behavior that implies rejection or assault can cut deeply.
 
3. Think about the EMOTIONS involved
 
…not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
 
To look is more intense than just to see. Looking at your own interests means being excited or being more concerned by whatever it is that excites or concerns you. Not looking at the interest of others means not really caring about whatever it is that other people care about or are going through. In other words, you feel indifferent toward them. In fact, the word “interests” here was simply supplied by the translators to give it a smoother flow. Actually, Paul is saying, “Don’t just be too concerned about yourself. Think of others also!”
 
Turning Point: “Your decisions can and will affect others also.”
 
 
GROUP DISCUSSION (30 minutes)
 
1. Our individuality strengthens the community. How?
 
2. On the other hand, individualism weakens the community. How?
 
3. How will you practice individuality but not individualism?

 

PRAY FOR ONE ANOTHER

Please take the time to pray for one another. This is important. Thanks!
 

YOUR REFLECTIONS

If you want to really grow in your faith, take some time to personally reflect on what you have learned today. Click this link to submit your personal reflection. We can also send you a copy of this if you wish. Just let us know your email. Thanks!