When Opposites Repel


Message Title:  When Opposites Repel
A Season of Growth
Main Text:
Philippians 3:17-4:1;
Scripture Reading: Luke 13:31-35;
RCL Scripture: Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18; Psalm 27; Philippians 3:17-4:1; Luke 13:31-35; Luke 9:28-36, (37-43a)
Focus:  Paul and Jesus test the allegiance of their audience.
To choose to align ourselves with God or to align ourselves with the world.
Other Notes:

SCRIPTURE READING: Luke 13:31-35 31 At that time, some Pharisees approached Jesus and said, “Go! Get away from here, because Herod wants to kill you.” 32 Jesus said to them, “Go, tell that fox, ‘Look, I’m throwing out demons and healing people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will complete my work. 33 However, it’s necessary for me to travel today, tomorrow, and the next day because it’s impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem.’ 34“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those who were sent to you! How often I have wanted to gather your people just as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings. But you didn’t want that. 35 Look, your house is abandoned. I tell you, you won’t see me until the time comes when you say, Blessings on the one who comes in the Lord’s name.”[b]


  1. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: How many of you grow a garden? What is your favorite thing to plant?
  2. I’ve known for years the importance of rotating crops to make sure that soil nutrient levels stay balanced.
  3. However, I recently learned about how plants have “bed fellows” and “bed enemies.” There are certain plants that shouldn’t grow next to each other. While other plants thrive off of each other. Let’s look at one example:
    1. What shouldn’t you plant with CARROTS: –
      1. Chives -; Dill -; Leaf lettuce; Onions; Parsnip- ; Tomatoes; Radish
    2. https://heeman.ca/garden-guides/companion-planting/

TRANSITION:  Sometimes opposites repel each other and we can’t force them to “get along.” For vegetables, there are hard rules about success with gardening. For Christians, the guidelines are much more nuanced.

As we look at the next pairing of scriptures, Luke 13 and Philippians, we will discuss how Christians fit in… or stand out. Do we attract our opposites or repel?

MAIN TEXT: Philippians 3:17-4:1a; 17 Brothers and sisters, become imitators of me and watch those who live this way—you can use us as models. 18 As I have told you many times and now say with deep sadness, many people live as enemies of the cross19 Their lives end with destruction. Their god is their stomach, and they take pride in their disgrace because their thoughts focus on earthly things. 20 Our citizenship is in heaven. We look forward to a savior that comes from there—the Lord Jesus Christ. 21 He will transform our humble bodies so that they are like his glorious body, by the power that also makes him able to subject all things to himself. Therefore, my brothers and sisters whom I love and miss, who are my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord.


  1. Background of Philippians (Map)
    1. Paul writes to the church in Philippi
    2. Paul is in prison, Philippians send Epaphroditus to bring Paul a care package and Paul sends him back with a letter.
    3. Philippi had strong identity as Romans. Very patriotic and nationalistic. (TBP)
      1. Paul wants to correct their allegiance
  2. “Become imitators of me”
  3. **“many people live as enemies of the cross”
  4. “our citizenship is in heaven” – our citizenship is IN God. (Greek heaven/sky)
  5. “stand firm in the Lord”


    1. Paul’s letter to the Philippians is full of gratitude for their care BUT remember—he’s in prison. As far as society sees it, Paul has a criminal record. This isn’t the last time he’ll be imprisoned either. Paul will eventually be executed for his faithfulness to the Gospel.
      1. Paul destroys his earthly reputation as a Pharisee and a Roman Citizen
    2. Paul is fighting a mindset that values earthly citizenship over their allegiance to Christ. Philippi was proud of their fealty as citizens of Rome.
      1. Paul was executed by his own countrymen. He was a Roman citizen with Roman privileges and eventually his countrymen rejected him for his message.
    1. Sassy Jesus shows up in our Gospel text today. He calls Herod Antipas a FOX! (Blanford’s Fox) The Tetrarch over Galilee! The guy who executed his cousin for insulting his wife!
      1. (Btw that wife was actually his brother’s wife! Herod killed his brother and took his wife and John the Baptist called him out.)
      2. Herod is keeping an eye on Jesus but (just like Paul) Jesus doesn’t hold back his ministry because of a threat.
    2. Aware of the shocking nature of Jesus: This passage reminds us of the shocking nature of Jesus. He was controversial to the authorities—both religious and government.
      1. Sometimes we focus in on the Birkenstock Jesus and picture him handing out free hugs at a festival while forgetting about Table Flipping Jesus. Table Flipping Jesus called for a radically different way of living in community.
        1. This is the Jesus who included individuals the religious leaders/zealots would exclude
        2. This is the Jesus calling out the religious leaders for their own hypocrisy
        3. This is the Jesus who said the law exists to benefit people, not people to benefit the law.
    3. Side note: this is one time where you see that Pharisees aren’t bad guys
    1. Personal Lord & Savior/ Stuffed Animal Jesus isn’t’ an accurate picture of Jesus. Jesus isn’t just FOR you. Jesus is FOR all of creation. Jesus isn’t on OUR side, we are called to HIS side.
      1. He loves people that others cast out. He gave second chances to those others had given up on. He pushed back on religious traditions/habits and people felt threatened.
      1. He died a criminal’s death—that’s right, his siblings sit on death row.
    2. Jesus called out the hypocritical behavior within his religious branch.
      1. Herod Antipas was a hypocrite for claiming his Jewish faith but being in the pocket of the Romans. His rule was founded by the Romans, not the Jews. The Romans thought the Jews would be easier to subdue if they put a “jew” in place.
    3. Those of us who grew up in the church: if we were transplanted to Jesus’ time, would be at risk of being offended by Jesus’ teachings rather than empowered by them.

APPLICATION: To Choose to align ourselves with God or to align ourselves with the world.

  1. It’s a little uncomfortable to think that Paul has a criminal record and that Jesus was executed by Roman capital punishment at the behest of the religious leaders. In fact, aside from John, all of Jesus’ disciples will be executed for their faithfulness to Jesus’ message.
    1. Compare to MLK Jr.: MLK was assassinated – there was a reason. We now paint him with rose colored glasses as we celebrate MLK day in February BUT his contemporaries hated him. They hated that the status quo was being disrupted. 
      1. Jesus was hated too. Sure, he was loved by the outcasts and oddballs BUT the ones in leadership with power, the ones with wealth, the ones in allegiance with Rome— they hated Jesus.
  2. Our story is a lived expression of Jesus’ story. (TBP)
    1. If we follow Jesus, we will not be fit in with the rest of the world.
      1. We won’t fit in with a political party.
      2. We won’t fit in with the cultural norms of our country.
      3. We won’t fit in anywhere because our citizenship is in heaven.
    2. INSTEAD:
      1. We will be welcoming the ones who are kicked out.
      2. We will be opening doors that others shut.
      3. Our connections will cross borders. Citizenship isn’t defined by earthly standards.
  3. DISCLAIEMER: Not a justification for being an asshole.
    1. There have been Christians who have used the concept “not part of this world” or “animosity with the world” as an excuse to be jerks.
      1. “Christians” protesting at soldiers’ funerals proclaiming their beliefs about homosexuals in vulgar ways.
      2. “Christians” protesting at women’s clinics by shaming women who need medical attention or are considering hard decisions about the future.
      3. “Christians” so convinced their political party is correct that the use slurs against leaders they disagree with. – All sides do this.
      4. “Christians” pastors who would refuse to marry a couple who are living together rather than unite them under God.
      5. “Christians” saying there is a war on Christmas based on the design on a cup at a coffee shop.
  4. Your Will, Not Mine: Following Jesus doesn’t mean that every belief we hold is now endorsed by God. Following Jesus means we will scrutinize each of our beliefs through the Holy Spirit and invite God to change our mind.
    1. Following Jesus means we let go of our own plans, hopes, desires and invite God’s desire to blossom within us.
    2. Jesus prayed in the Garden before he was arrested “Yet your will be done.” He didn’t want to suffer BUT he gave it all up for the glory of God.


A CHALLENGE: I invite you to pray Jesus’ prayer during lent. To share with God the struggles on your heart, the hopes you have, or the plans you’re making. AND THEN have the guts to say “yet your will be done.”

Help me want what you want.

Let go of our allegiance to party, country, or denomination and place our citizenship in heaven.

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