I like the way the TNIV renders Philippians 2:5: "In your relationships with one another, have the same attitude of mind Christ Jesus had:". This brings out the meaning of the Greek more clearly than most translations: This be thinking among you (plural) which also in Christ Jesus. Both contextually and in the verse itself, this is talking about a kind of communal following of Christ.
Most treatments of this passage I've either heard or read, from my memory, really don't grapple with this aspect much. Though it's at the heart of what Paul is talking about, here. Many get lost in the kenotic study of Christ. How did he empty himself, or make himself nothing? But we can easily lose sight of the intent of this passage.
First Paul is telling them that this special kind of community is to be different in relation to one another (verses 1-4). Then Paul presents Christ and his attitude of mind as being the supreme example or path they are to follow, in their relationships with one another (verses 5-8).
This means humility, servanthood and even death, if need be, for one another, in Jesus. And it also means exaltation in Jesus, for all who take this path (verses 9-11), though, of course these verses refer only to Christ. But I take them to apply to our communal following of him. We certainly will share in his glory, if we share in his sufferings.
Christ's work is redemptive. Certainly for his brothers and sisters. But also for the world. It would stand to reason, then, that our following of him is likewise to go beyond just our relationships with one another. But also to be redemptive, for the world. Of course Christ's work is unique. But we're to be little christs, in our obedience to God. This is at the heart of following him.
And there is no way we're to live in a bubble. Our life in the world will, and should cross over into the lives of all kinds of people. That they would see the Christ life in us. That they would see the difference in our lives as we follow him. Then whatever we say in witness can have much more impact, by the Spirit.
Jesus told his disciples that all people would know that they were his disciples or followers, if they had love for each other. He also prayed, soon afterwards, that we would be united, just as he and the Father were united, so that the world would know that the Father had sent him. This is largely redemptive in purpose. Yes. Displaying a reality. But doing so for the world.
Back to the Philippians 2 passage. We must see our communion with other believers in this light. Do we reflect the Lord and his love, his grace and truth? Or do we sometimes reflect the world? And live according to the flesh? Christ's obedience and love gave to the point of the most cruel death. Like him we're to be servants of all. And that service must start at home and in our gatherings as church. That we together, would learn to live out this great Christ life, in mission to the world.
This is such a preliminary sketch. What do you see here that can help us?