“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus” – Phil. 2:5
How often have you tried to talk your kid into eating something that they were convinced they wouldn’t like, even though they have never tasted it? You humor them, cajole them, make a game of it and finally threaten violence or grounding to get them to try it. So they put a microscopic amount of this foreign food on the end of their fork, screw their eyes shut and with a motion slower than grass growing in January, they bring the fork to their mouth and just barely touch the end of their tongue, at which point they drop the fork, grasp their throat as if they’ve been poisoned and proceed to drink an entire glass of milk to wash the offending flavor from their mouth.
You have just witnessed the fact that it is easier to change someone’s behavior than it is to change their mind. You got them to taste it, but you couldn’t make them like it. Besides, since they already told you they wouldn’t like it, they weren’t about to lose face and admit they were wrong. Do any of you have kids who would rather go to bed hungry than admit you were right and the food you forced down their throat while pinning them to the floor with your knee was actually pretty good?
As Christians we are often like kids who avoid certain foods. We want to pick and choose what areas of Christianity we want to consume. We want a say over what we’ll obey, what we’ll do with what we know, how we will represent Christ and what areas of Christ’s mind and life we will make our own. And when Jesus tells us we must eat humility or obedience (Phil 2:8), we object in a way that resembles our children trying a new food: slowly, with apprehension, already convinced we won’t like it and God is trying to ruin our lives.
There is a tremendous difference between knowing the mind of Christ and wanting the mind of Christ. We often hear people ask, “What would Jesus do?” That is a great question. Let’s think about it. Well, in this situation or in that instance, I remember Jesus forgiving or stooping to serve those who opposed Him or didn’t understand Him. That is what Jesus would do.
So we think about that for a while, come to the conclusion that is it hard to do and then, hoping for a different answer we ask, “Okay, what else might He do?”
One of the places we will have the most troubles in life as a Christian is in our minds. We will always struggle to think like Christ, or even WANT to think like Christ. We would much rather pray that God changes the other person who is making our life miserable than to pray that we see them as God sees them and then love them as Christ has loved us. We want to pray that God helps difficult people see the error of their ways, when God is saying, “Why don’t we just start with the error of your ways?” It is always good for us to remember Jesus’ teaching about the splinter and the plank.
As I was studying Phil. 2:5-8 for a sermon, I started to see there was a tremendous difference between the mind of Christ and the mind of most people I know. Even Christians. Even myself. Like most of Scripture this is a passage that we may read during our devotions but not take the time to let it soak in. Maybe somebody could write a devotional that would take a passage like this and give you a thought a day for seven days, asking the hard questions and going deep into meaning of the Scripture and ways we can practice it during the week. We all like those devotionals that give us 365 Promises of God! What if we found a book called “365 Ways to Have the Mind of Christ, With Exercises and Tests.” Would we want to buy that one? Not so much? Why? Isn’t that what we claim we want? Or do we?