Catch up on how things have been over the past week. Then ask group members to share a story of a time when someone did something selfless for them.
Ask for a volunteer to read Philippians 2:5-11 to the group, praying that you can help each other to be deeply impacted by God’s word, and then impact others in Jesus’ name.
If you’re not gathered in person, the leader should project the video for the group through sharing their screen
Here are some suggested questions to help your discussion:
You may feel overwhelmed by the call of today’s passage. Bear in mind that, in verse 1, Paul reminds his friends that they are ‘united to Christ’. Paul urges them to live like Jesus because they already belong to him through his death and resurrection. With this in mind, discuss:
Evangelist Becky Pippert argues that accepting our humanity is essential if we are to be used by God in serving others. She references today’s passage in Philippians, then adds:
The Son was fully human, sharing our human limitations of time, space, knowledge and mortality – though not our sin, for that was not part of God’s design for us when he made humanity. In other words, when Jesus came to earth he not only revealed God’s divine character; he also showed us what it means to be fully human…. What Jesus shows us so very vividly is that we are created to be God-dependent, not self-sufficient. That is why Jesus was never ashamed by his dependence upon God. He wasn’t embarrassed that he needed to pray for guidance, or ashamed that he became tired or hungry – because that is what it means to be human. If Jesus accepted his dependence upon God without embarrassment, then clearly we must accept our dependence as well.
There are all sorts of situations where we can feel way out of our depth as Christians, especially when it comes to sharing our faith with friends. Discuss together what difference it makes to this task when we remember that God is delighted to working through us, just as we are.
For more, read Chapters 2-3 of Becky’s book, Stay Salt.
Over centuries, Christians have grappled with questions around the nature of the person of Christ. Philippians 2:6-7 are key verses here. If Jesus was ‘in very nature God’ and yet ‘made himself nothing’ by taking on human form, does that mean that he was forced to surrender or compromise aspects of his deity?
In Chapter 2 of Basics for Believers, D. A. Carson makes these helpful comments:
[Christ] ‘made himself nothing’: what does that mean? Literally translated, the original reads, ‘He emptied himself.’ But the expression does not mean he emptied himself of something. For example, it is not as if he emptied himself of his deity, for then he would no longer be God. Nor did he empty himself of the attributes of his deity (though that has been argued), for the result would be the same…. If the Son is stripped of the attributes of deity, it is difficult to see how he can in any meaningful sense still claim to be God.
In fact, the expression ‘he emptied himself’, far from meaning he emptied himself of something, is idiomatic for ‘he gave up all his rights’…. It is important to recognise that Paul does not tell us that Christ exchanged one form for another. Paul is not saying that Jesus was God, gave that up and became a slave instead. Rather, without ever abandoning who he is, he adopts the mode of existence of a slave. To do this, he (literally) becomes ‘in human likeness’ (2:7): the idea is not that he merely becomes like a human being… It means he became fashioned in this way – a human being. He was always God; now he becomes something he was not, a human being.
To dig even further into this amazing aspect of theology, check out Bruce Ware’s The Strange Math of Jesus: Emptying Himself by Adding Human Nature.
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