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Friday, March 30, 2018

This Mind

It's Good Friday. It's the day we celebrate not His Resurrection, but His murder. Odd, isn't it? But the Bible says God planned it (Acts 4:27-28). And we needed it (Rom 3:23-24).

In Paul's letter to the church at Philippi he urged them to be "of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose." (Phil 2:2) (I know; it sounds like I just changed the subject. Just hang with me for a moment here.) Does that mean that he was asking them to all think alike? No. He was talking about unity, not uniformity. So what unity did he want? He doesn't leave us to guess.
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. (Phil 2:3-4)
Clearly Paul is repeating himself for emphasis. There is one thing in which he wanted them to be "of the same mind". It entailed "the same love". It was indeed a unity. It was one purpose. What was it? "Regard one another as more important than yourselves." He says it in the negative. "Do nothing from selfishness." He says the same thing in another way. "Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others." All the same thing. "Less of me. More of you." Be of the same mind, united, loving, intent on the same purpose ... to eliminate self and make your lives all about others. It's a radical notion since it goes against the core human principle of self-as-center, but that's what he asks.

He doesn't ask it in a vacuum, however. He gives an example for us to follow. He gives us a target, a mark to hit.
Have this mind in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Phil 2:5-8)
And here we are, full circle, back to Good Friday. The Crucifixion is important to Christianity. It is a key component of the Gospel (1 Cor 15:1-8). On it our forgiveness depends (Rom 5:9). It is critical for our salvation (Rom 3:21-26). But beyond all that, it is this mind with which we are to live our lives. It is this attitude that is to be our point of unity, our love maintained, our singular purpose. Jesus who is God emptied Himself. He took on the form of a slave. He humbled Himself to obedience and to death. Have this mind in you. Don't consider yourself to be of such importance. Don't see your own concerns and interests as more valuable than others. Don't regard yourself more highly than you ought. Have this mind in you.

We can get a lot of good things from Good Friday, a celebration of the murder of the Son of God on our behalf. We can get forgiveness. We can get salvation. We can get a working relationship with God. And we can get a singular, shared purpose from His amazing example. "Have this mind in you."

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