Reading: Philippians 2:5-11
Verse 5: “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.”
Before we delve into today’s writing from Paul, sit with the opening verse for just a minute. How far can that go? How far should it go?
To me there are four key phrases in verses 6-8 that we are called to emulate as followers of Jesus Christ. First, “he made himself nothing.” This is not to think that we are worthless. Instead it is to see the worth in others, to think of self last, to consider others in depth before taking into account our wants and needs. Second, “taking the very nature of a servant.” This is putting these first thoughts into real action. It is responding to the need you see, it is stepping into the opportunity to help and serve the church, your family, the community. Third, “he humbled himself.” This is the dual action of surrender and then looking to God alone from this place of humility. And, fourth, Jesus “became obedient to death.” Jesus’ cross was literal. Ours could be but is much more likely to be figurative. Our greatest death is to self. That’s really what the first three are about. It is a hard death and one that comes daily. The swath of evil and destruction that self cuts is broad: pride, ego, lust, envy, greed, jealousy, hate, judgmentalism…
So why should we have the attitude of Christ? Why should our heart and mind be conformed to Christ’s? To me there are three basic reasons. First and perhaps least important: our life is better. Focusing not on self but on God and others brings a joy, a peace, a contentment that the world cannot bring. Second, it helps our relationships flourish both with God and with the community of faith. It leads to collaboration and generosity, to cooperation and genuine love. And third and most importantly, it leads others to “confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.” Living with the heart and mind of Christ draws others into this relationship and into new life through our Lord and Savior.
Rethink the opening questions for just a moment: How far can that go? How far should it go?
Prayer: Lord God, I believe you told us how far: “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.” May it be so in my life, O God. Amen.