If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, 2make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. 4Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. 5Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,??
6who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, 7but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, 8he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death??? even death on a cross. 9Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, 10so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.??
12Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.??
Paul is telling us two things this morning: to have the same mind as Christ and the same mind as each other. What I want us to understand above all else today is that having the same mind as Christ and each other takes cultivation. Growing in your relationship with God means that each of us must enter into practices that will enrich our faith and contribute to growth. One of the most common reasons that people give up on anything in their lives ??? especially faith ??? is because of a lack of progress.??
When people fail to see results in their spiritual walk, one of the first things they do is blame their faith. We are all prone to blame the religion before we blame ourselves. Yet the key to faith is not the results???the key is identity. The point of faith is not to do great things or overcome amazing obstacles???that's God's job. The point of faith is to be associated with Christ. When we put our whole trust in Jesus, we begin to grow in relationship and intimacy with Him. In the gospel of John, Jesus talks about being grafted into Christ, like a branch that grows into a tree in order to become part of that tree. It is our faith that brings on the grafting process. God's grace works us into Himself and we become part of the tree.??
This is what it means to have the mind of Christ, to be found in Him, associated with Him, for you to be in Him and He in you. All of this is in John 15, a little Bible study challenge for you to go home with. Having the same mind as Christ means being a part of the same central nervous system, it means feeling as God feels, thinking when God thinks. You are now part of the very going's on of God's redemptive process in this world. If you've ever wondered how it is that others have seemed to know what to do and when to do it, it's because they're tapped in. When you are connected to the source, you have the resources, the know-how. And Paul encourages us to get tapped in.
So, if we can understand that Jesus desires each of us to find ourselves in Him, then we can begin to live life with the proper identity. Once we live with the identity of Christ, we will begin to see results. You see, the results are the consequences of us having Jesus' mind, not our mind. We have a fallen mind, a mind that is incapable of loving properly and forgiving deeply. We are so quick to forget that each of us needs God in order to live life properly. Anything less is a failed attempt at something that was designed to be done with God and God alone.??
Each of us must understand at some point that the fundamental problem with being like Christ and growing in our faith is our own fallen selves???we are the problem. Instead of owning our failures and accepting our short-comings as a sinful people, we blame something outside ourselves. Some of us blame other people or our circumstances. We blame family or friends. One of the most common blames today is the Church. There are plenty of things wrong with the Church and Paul is even hinting at that in our text today when he encourages us to be of one mind as a people, as a faith. Paul has seen enough division in his time to know that we fall when we are divided and our identity is found in our selves and not in God.??
And so we have this important idea that if we cultivate a life that is like Christ's and let the Spirit develop a Christ-like-ness within us, we can then join together with the same mind as a people and stand firm in our faith. Results and growth come when we develop an identity in Jesus. I've said this before but we have to understand that God is making a community, calling us to become a 'people' not 'collective individuals'. I'm talking about conformity, yes, but not conformity to each other, I'm talking about conformity to Christ.??
This kind of conformity begins to make sense as we engage in mission and ministry. We do that successfully when we have Jesus' mind, each of us united in that way of thinking. When we are united in our thinking, we are able to live out Paul's instructions to us today: to consider others as better than ourselves and to look toward the interests of others. This is mission and ministry and all its various forms, to respond to the needs of those around and having the humility to meet whatever needs are necessary. But all of this comes back to cultivation.??
If you want to have the mind of Christ, you must take it on through community, through worship, through singing, study, prayer, Bible reading. There is no 'ah-ha' moment when we're unengaged. Many of us know the popular scripture Jeremiah 29.11,??
For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.??
But what I see more often than not is a spiritual laziness that is associated with this scripture. Many sit back and just trust God with the future and wait for life to happen. The problem here is the failure to understand that God has called you out of your bondage to spiritual laziness, called you out of your fallen mind, and into freedom, into the mindset of Jesus Christ.??
Listen to that calling in the verses after 11, what God told Israel to give them hope,??
Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart, I will let you find me…??
Don't misunderstand me this morning: there is nothing you can do to earn God's favor. But understand that God has invited you on a journey, on a mission of cultivation, for you to search for Him and find Him and have all the goodness that is 'God' be placed in your heart and in your mind so that we can live out the call to be the community of God. It is not about being God's person???it is about being God's people.??
What would life look like if we thought through it like Jesus? That is the kind of thinking you are being invited to have. The mind of Christ can and will transform our lives if we will cultivate that thinking through getting involved in the ministry of our churches. Go to Bible study. It doesn't have to be mine, or Jerry's, or Anna's???but my goodness there's three right there for you to begin to engage the mind of Christ.??
And finally, what would it look like if each of us began to live out Paul's words today? To have lives where we experienced peaceful and helpful relationships; relationships with family, friends, and even strangers that actually made us better people; that brought joy into others lives and even our own; that lifted people out of the tragedy they experience on a daily basis and began to help them experience joy!? What would life be like if we worked out our salvation through fear and trembling because God was someone to be honored and respected, rather than blamed and neglected? I encourage you to take our scripture sometime today, revisit it, and hear the Holy Spirit calling out to you to conform to our Lord Jesus and cultivate the 'same mind'. Amen.??
Written with Essay on iPad