Based on Biblical Text Philippians 2:5
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.
The word Christian is perhaps the most misused word in our language. It appears sometimes that every person who utters the word Christian has their own definition of it. The word Christian has been used so frequently, so loosely and so erroneously that it has lost much of its meaning. However, when all else has been taken away, and the word Christian has been stripped of all of its excess verbal baggage, and reduced to the least common denominator, Christian means “Christ-like.”
That begs the question, what does it mean to be Christ-like? The Apostle Paul defined it when he wrote to the church at Philippi. He said, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” We can agree that this is a powerful, provocative, ego-shattering statement! Can we even imagine having the mind of Christ?
You see Paul was pointing out a fact that Jesus had already demonstrated. Jesus entered the body of man to demonstrate that we have the power to live a sin-free life if we allow Jesus to live in us. Let this mind be in you! In other words, think like Christ, behave like Christ, respond like Christ!
This sounds likes a painful surgical procedure! Paul admonishes us that, if we are to live like Christ, we have to somehow lose our mind, and allow it to be replaced by the mind of Jesus Christ. The problem is, that is hard for many of us to do. We like to hang on to the old mind, reminiscing about the pleasures and thrills of unholy activities. But according to the Apostle Paul, if we want to be Christ-like, we must undergo a major brain procedure and allow ourselves to be endowed with the mind of Jesus Christ.
David seems to have been saying the same thing a thousand years before the coming of Christ when he said, “Create in me a clean heart, O God…” In other words, get rid of the dirty language, the ungodly thoughts, and the evil nature. And then,”Search me Lord” to make sure that nothing displeasing still exists. If you happen to find anything that is not pleasing in your sight, purge me Lord. Take it out! If you find selfish pride, hatred, bigotry, envy, jealousy or greed, take it out! And when the purging is over, give me a clean heart!
Paul further explains what it means to be a Christian when he says, “therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: Old things are passed away; behold all things are become new.” It is a fact that we cannot be a new creature and walk with our old habits. We cannot be a new creature and talk the same old talk. We cannot be a new creature and still live in the lust of the flesh. We must move out of that old house and into to a brand new life. We have got to get rid of that old mind and replace it with the mind of Christ.
When we look into the depth of Christ’s character we see humility. No arrogance, no self-exaltation, no self-righteousness. The mind of Jesus Christ was saturated with humility. So then if we want to be a Christian, we must have the mind of Jesus Christ. If our mind is filled with arrogance, if our mind is corroded with self-righteousness or selfish pride, if we are sitting on our “high horse” and looking down on others with indignation, we cannot call ourselves Christian. If we have that “holier than thou” attitude that causes us to perceive others (the least of these) as low-down and unworthy of our time and attention, we cannot call ourselves Christian. We have got to be humble. In spite of our high and holy position in Christ, we must be meek and lowly. This may a good time to examine ourselves and ask: “Do I pass the humility test?”
Another aspect of the mind of Christ we need to examine has two dimensions: Caring and Forgiving. We cannot look into the mind of Jesus Christ without seeing that He had a caring heart. Jesus cared about people. He sympathized and empathized with people who were struggling. He cared for the poor, the down-trodden, the outcasts, the suffering, the victimized, the neglected, the hungry, the disabled, the helpless, and the forgotten. In the mind of Christ there is a caring and compassionate love. If we are going to label ourselves Christians, we have to wear the “caring” label as well.
If we can watch people suffer and have no feeling of sympathy for their plight, if it is easy for us to hurt people’s feelings and then brag about it, we should be careful about calling ourselves a Christian. If we want to wear the Christian label, let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus…Jesus cared!
Another dimension to Jesus’ love is forgiveness. The Word of God gives a crystal clear look into Jesus’ mind as this sinless God-man is dragging His cross up to Calvary. We hear Him say, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do”. What a vivid example of forgiveness as we find Jesus not praying for His mother, his disciples or any of his friends but rather He was praying for those who had kicked Him, and beat Him, those who had spit in His face and whipped Him. He was praying for those who had driven the long rusty nails into His hands and feet, then mocked Him as He hung in agony, a sinless man positioned between two thieves. We find no malice in Him. He held no grudge, no hatred. Jesus displayed only love and forgiveness. Paul says to us that we are to let this mind be in us, which was also in Christ Jesus, and we will have no choice but to forgive our enemies.
If we are carrying a grudge against someone, if we spend our time scheming to plot out the perfect revenge for an injustice perpetrated against us, we cannot call ourselves a Christian. “Vengeance is mind, sayeth the Lord!” If we choose where we sit every Sunday to avoid sitting with those who talk about us and treat us poorly, it is a stretch to call ourselves a Christian. If we choose the ministry or auxiliary we will be a part of based on its list of members, we are hard pressed to call ourselves a Christian. Let this mind be in you…forgive your enemies, and pray for those who would despitefully use you.
We may be in the building, we may hold several offices and fulfill several important roles of responsibility within the church structure, but our perfect attendance does not qualify us to be called Christian. We may tithe of all that we own, and give a generous offering to the poor as well, but that does not qualify us to be called Christian. If we want to be a Christian, we must live what we profess. We must be humble, we must care for others, and we must forgive.
In the Book of Acts, there is a record of the first group of Christ’s followers who called themselves Christians. As we examine their behavior we will find that some of us have a long way to go toward achieving rights to the title. The community around them noticed how differently they operated. They were recognized for their humility, their compassion and for their forgiveness. They shared all they had, and had “all things in common”. The widows and orphans of their community were well cared for. They had the kind of love that held no grudges, had no resentments, bore no ill feelings, and harbored no malice. They were humble, meek, caring, forgiving and they loved each other.
The community asked, “What shall we call them?” Someone suggested they name the group after its leader, the man from Nazareth who was crucified on Golgotha’s Hill. After all they seem to be trying to emulate Him! They claim that He still lives in them, and He molds their character to conform to His likeness. He had a reputation for humility and compassion. He even asked God to forgive the men who nailed Him to the Cross! They called Him “christos,” the anointed, the Messiah, the Christ.” And they called them Christians.
How about us? We say that we want to be a Christian, but are we up for the challenge? Are we willing to let the mind of Christ be in us, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year? Do we dare allow our love and loyalty to be examined, our courage and faith to be tested, our devotion and integrity to be inspected and our character and morality to be analyzed? If the community asked, “What shall we call them?” Would they allow us to be called Christian?
As we approach the Sabbath
Sunday, May 12 2013, is the Seventh Sunday of Easter (Mother’s Day)
Join our Worship Experience at 8:00 am and 11:00 am.
Church School begins at 9:45 am.
Scripture Lesson for this Sunday
1 Peter 4:12-19
There is a Word from the Lord!
Sermon Text Proverbs 31:30
Sermon Title The Christian Mother