Our text is the second chapter of Philippians, beginning at verse 5: Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, now, though having the form of God, did not consider equality with god something to be held on to, but he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being found in human likeness.
What Church do you belong to? Saint John on Mattis Avenue? An accurate answer, but one that betrays division. It's not Saint John Catholic on campus, or any number of St. Johns in our area.
There are many kinds of churches, Roman Catholic, Baptist, Episcopal, Pentecostal; Even Lutheran: Missouri Synod, ELCA, Wisconsin Synod, Free Lutheran. Confessional, Contemporary, Traditional, Liberal, Conservative. More divisions: pro life, pro-choice. Democrat/Republican. Anti-war, support our troops. It goes on and on.
Whether it be as petty as the color of the hymnal we grew up with or a weighty as who's invited to communion, our divisions are proof that we are not, as Paul says in chapter 1, "contending as one man for the gospel" (1:27). or "Doing everything without complaining or arguing" We are not living lives "worthy of the gospel of Christ".
During passion week Jesus prayed we would all be one, as He and His Father were one (JN 17:22).
Names and labels are evidence we are not of same mind and attitude one to another. Having the same mind is having a mind that has the same love, is in full agreement, does nothing from selfish pride or ambition, regards others as better than oneself, looks to the intents of others first.
It turns out we really are of one mind with one another. We disagree nearly constantly. Just look at the controversy over worship styles. Everybody has different idea of what they want. They expect their church to offer everything, proven tradition and the latest trend. It looks like we are trying our best to turn God's house into a marketplace.
We really are curvatus in se "Curved in on ourselves" We are so bent over examining ourselves, can only see ourselves as better than everyone else. We have become slaves to ourselves. Even attempts to imitate Jesus, WWJD?, are just that, an imitation, mimicking the example rather than acting from new mind.
Paul looks to the saints in Philippi, and to us—to make his joy complete. Instead we bring him sorrow and shame. The whole Christian church, and we individual Christians, are incomprehensively divided and still arguing.
Few ask, what does the Bible really say? We just go right to positions. You're either for me or against me.
It is much the same way in our homes, harsh words, sharp comments, fighting. It's proof of the problem.
What's worse is we become enemies of the cross of Christ, and since all such enemies end in destruction, the judgment of God will be the end of us.
But there is another mind at work—the one that was in Christ Jesus. He was single-minded in his obedience. Had the form of the Father, but humbled himself—took on our human frame. As one of us he stretched out his form on a cross and made it CRUCIFORM. his single-minded obedience took him to death, though he alone was undeserving of it. Was truly a NOWHERE MAN who was buried in a pauper's grave.
Some wonder why he was allegedly so wise as to "throw away" his life like this. He devoted himself to servitude and self denial. He allowed himself to be trampled underfoot by us. "Look what obedience gets you!"
This is exactly why Jesus came. That's what we're here to remember this Holy Week. Servitude. Palm Sunday? Humility. What king rides on donkey? Only pilgrims greet him. Children shout "save us". The real power in town is plotting his arrest and murder. Through it all, here's Jesus, serving Father in obedience.
Then he took it to the next level by turning his obedience into something for us. He placed himself under God's verdict of Justice—that says no sin shall ever go unpunished.
That's where J. took our place—at the cross—suffered pain of hell for us! Now we're free. That's never going to happen to us—if we trust in Him!
That's the kind of humility and obedience you're called on to imitate in your own life. God wants you to follow in his footsteps by dedicating yourself completely and perfectly to his desire.
When we're all doing that, all the divisions will disappear—no more arguments. There's a peace that comes from submitting to God's will, not other people's will forced on us. No need to fight. What God's offering is just what we want, what all of us want.
God no longer knows the myriad of names and labels we use. We are "baptized sinner, now forgiven, beloved son and daughter." Our curved in on itself form becomes straight. We're all looking up to the same place—to HIM!
We don't need to mimic Christ now—he's alive in us. We are shaped in his form, the CRUCIFORM. We see beyond ourselves, looking to interests of others, in humility we regard others as better than ourselves.
And together, under the one name of Jesus, we bend our knees at His Name. Our tongues confess that the cruciform human, Jesus Christ, is Lord, OUR LORD, and through it all, God gets the glory. Amen.
Copyright © 1998-2011 James F. Wright. All rights reserved.
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