Epistle Reading: Philippians 3:12-16

Epistle Reading: Philippians 3:12-16

Fully Human (8.27.17) 1

Epistle reading: Philippians 3:12-16

12Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal,(W)but I press on to take hold(X)of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.(Y)13Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind(Z)and straining toward what is ahead,14I press on(AA)toward the goal to win the prize(AB)for which God has called(AC)me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

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

Gospel Reading : Matthew 5:43-48

43“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[i](AW)and hate your enemy.’(AX)44But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,(AY)45that you may be children(AZ)of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.(BA)46If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?(BB)Are not even the tax collectors doing that?47And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?48Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.(BC)

  1. One of the greatest Football movies of all time is Friday Night Lights. Toward the end of the movie the team we follow is losing in the Texas high school football championship. They are losing to a team that outweighs them 30lbs a man. The half time speech of Coach Gains goes like this:
  2. "Well it's real simple: You got two more quarters and that's it.Now most of you have been playin' this game for ten years. And you got two more quarters and after that most of you will never play this game again as long as you live. Now, ya'll have known me for awhile, and for a long time now you've been hearin' me talk about being perfect.Well I want you to understand somethin'. To me, being perfect is not about that scoreboard out there. It's not about winning. It's about you and your relationship to yourself and your family and your friends.Being perfect is about being able to look your friends in the eye and know that you didn't let them down, because you told them the truth. And that truth is that you did everything that you could. There wasn't one more thing that you could've done.Can you live in that moment, as best you can, with clear eyes and love in your heart? With joy in your heart?If you can do that gentlemen, then you're perfect.I want you to take a moment. And I want you to look each other in the eyes. I want you to put each other in your hearts forever, because forever's about to happen here in just a few minutes.I want you to close your eyes, and I want you to think about Boobie Miles, who is your brother (their star running back who had been injured). And he would die to be out there on that field with you tonight. And I want you to put that in your hearts.Boys, my heart is full. My heart's full!"
  3. I start with this scene not just because Pastor Bill is jonesing for the start of football season, although I am, I open with it because the coach is dangerously close to an eternal truth. Coach lets them know that perfection is not about winning but about our hearts. As we continue our series on the sermon on the mount we come to one of the most challenging and unbelievable statements of Jesus. He tells us that we are going to be perfect as our Father in Heaven is perfect. As we think about this we can say or think, "Perfect, what do you mean Lord!? I am only human!"How many of us have said or through that, or something like it? I know I have.
  4. The more I examine scripture and it's view of the human nature, however, I realize something. Jesus does not call us to be only human but fully human. We often explain away our character flaws and sin as a byproduct of our humanity. However, that is not the Bible's view. After all Jesus was sinless because of his full humanity not sinless despite His full humanity. In Him, as we sang this morning, "sin's curse has lost its grip on" us.
  5. Coach Gains had to clear up the meaning of perfection and how it relates to football. Perhaps we need reconsider Jesus' understanding of perfection. After all, Jesus does not call us to be perfect because we are meant to be only human. Instead, He calls us to perfection in Him because He wants us to become fully human!
  6. The first way Jesus calls us to be fully human is in our goals. When we are only human our goals reflect the goals of those around us but as we become fully human that changes.
  7. Moses illustrates this in Exodus 23 when saying, starting in verse 2, "Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong. When you give testimony in a lawsuit, do not pervert justiceby siding with the crowd." This reminds me of a plaque in our home that says "Never confuse the will of the majority with the will of God."
  8. When Jesus says crazy things like "love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" we are likely to say that's not normal. That is not what the majority of people do. The goal of the majority is to love others when we think we can get something out of others. In other words, for many, the goal of human relationships is to get as much as you can out of the other person and give as little as possible, to love only those who love you.
  9. Most people only love others for what they can do for them. Most of us assume the goal of life is to be only human and Jesus calls us to be fully human. I don't know about you, but I do not want an ordinary life. I want extraordinary, I want the complete wholeness that God has in store for me.The meaning of the Greek word translated 'perfect' is to be complete, whole, or to lack nothing. So if any of us want the extraordinary result of being complete, whole and lacking nothing we have to do some extraordinary loving. We have to move from being only human to becoming fully human. To be fully human is to love others for their own sake, not for what they may or may not do for us. This is what Jesus means when He says "Be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect."
  10. What does that kind of perfection look like?After all, wasn't trying to be like God, the sin that got Adam and Eve kicked out of Eden? In the garden of Eden, Adam and Eve wanted to be like God in His essence, not His character. They wanted to be like God in things like power, prestige, and control. What is the goal of the perfection Jesus is encouraging when saying "Be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect?"
  11. The goal is to be perfect like God in His character, not His essence. In His character, God loves people for their own sake, not based on their righteousness or their love for Him. Thus Jesus says, God causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good alike. The difference in loving someone in a fully human and only human wayis illustrated in the difference between healthy and unhealthy reasons for a couple having a child.
  12. An unhealthy reason to have a child is out of a need to feel loved. It is unhealthy for parents to love a child, not for his or her own sake, but for the love that child can give them. This is loving out of emptiness, hoping to be filled by the baby. In contrast, a couple who loves each other is compelled to have a childnot because their hearts are empty, but because their hearts are full from their love for each other. In this situation the parents love their child out of their full hearts. To be fully human is to have a heart filled by the love of our Heavenly Father. We love others out of that fullness. In His perfecting love we move from being only human to becoming fully human!
  13. Even when considering this change of life goal and understanding of perfection it still seems like too much to ask of us, doesn't it? When looking at the all encompassing nature of this goal we can, very easily, get overwhelmed. Thinking, "That sounds all well and good but I aren't you expecting a lot of me Lord? I'm a nice person, isn't that good enough?!"
  14. If we want to be only human it is good enough. If we want an ordinary life, with ordinary relationships than yes it is good enough. If we want the ordinary shallow, unstable, love that the world offers, it is good enough. But we were made for so much more than just good enough. When we invite Jesus into our lives not only does He change our goals but He also changes our expectations of what God can and will do in us and through us.
  15. When our goals are that of the world, reaching them is completely dependent on our own strength. Paul uses himself as an example of this in the third chapter of Philippians. Starting in verse 4 Paul says "if someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more:circumcisedon the eighth day, of the people of Israel,of the tribe of Benjamin,a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee;as for zeal,persecuting the church;as for righteousness based on the law,faultless." If we translate that into our culture it would say something like, "I am epic! All the right people know me, all the right people like me (probably because I'm so humble), I have the perfect car, the perfect salary, status, and job." But Paul goes on to say that it is all rubbish, or dog excrement is the literal translation, in comparison to knowing Christ.
  16. You see, we can obtain all of those limited, less than fully human, goals on our own. But when we change our goal to loving others without limitation we realize that we cannot obtain it. No matter how hard we fight, work, and strive we cannot love others limitlessly and we end up feeling very limited. The good news is that we do not have to obtain it. Later in the chapter, Paul tells us that he fights, works, and strives to take a hold of that goal, not on his own strength, but because he has already been taken a hold of by Christ Jesus.
  17. When taking on the ordinary goals of the world our ordinary expectation is that we will be doing all of the work. In contrast, when we take on the extra ordinary goal of becoming fully human it is the Holy Spirit that does an extraordinary work in us. We cannot do it on our own, God never meant us to. To be fully human is to be in relationship with God. When we change our expectations of ourselves in relation to God we also change our expectation of what God, and His perfect love, can and will do in us and through us.
  18. C.S. Lewis explains this difference when writing: "Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself."
  19. When trusting the Holy Spirit in rebuilding our hearts into Christ's likeness we find that Christ intends for more than just a decent little cottage. Instead, Christ will build a palace of love.
  20. Love that is not dependant on what other people do but on who we are in Christ. In Christ we are, beloved sons and daughters of the King of the Universe. Children that are becoming more and more who their Heavenly Father intended them to be. Children that are called to be perfect by the power of His perfecting love.
  21. Not the kind of perfection the world seeks. Perfection that includes goals like better cars, more money, and greater status. Instead, the kind of perfection that coach Gains talked about. The perfection that does not depend on the scoreboards the world measures us against. Instead, the perfection that comes from hearts being full of love. Loving others not as a people who are only human, depending on our love. Instead, we love others as those who are fully human by fully surrendering to God's perfect and perfecting love.
  22. Let us pray. Lord, thank you for taking hold of us so we can take hold of our life purpose. That purpose of moving from being only human to becoming fully human by loving without limitation in the fullness of your love for us. In your name we pray, Amen
  23. Receive this blessing and benediction. Let us go forth fully human. A people who love without limitation. A people who love because we have been taken a hold of by Christ Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit to become who our Heavenly Father has created us to be! You may go in peace.