Thursday, September 28, 2017

Phil. 2:1-13 The Mind of Christ


KEY TEXT: Philippians 2:1-5 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.

KEY THOT: Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 2:16 that believers have the mind of Christ: "For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ." And in today's Philippians text, he affirms this again: "Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus".  It's not then a question receiving the mind of Christ but releasing the mind of Christ which is already ours. So, what is the mind of Christ like? Are we thinking Christ's thoughts or our own carnal thoughts?

First of all, the mind of Christ is not situated in the cognitive part of our brain: rather, its root is at the emotional or "gut" level of our being. Paul describes this  gut-level mind in these words: "encouragement in Christ", "comfort from love", "participation (koinonia: fellowship) in the Spirit", and "affection and sympathy". In other words, the mind of Christ rests on an emotional foundation of encouragement, comfort, fellowship, affection and sympathy. It begins in the heart, not in the head. It is this "gut-level" core that the "mind of Christ" is expressed. No two Christians will ever agree 100% on everything at the cognitive level. But only these gut-level emotions can produce true unity. Too often, it's often not theology that divides Christians but emotional dissonance.

It's only when the emotional harmony is strong that we experience truly the mind of Christ that brings unity of purpose: "same mind... same love... full accord and one mind" (v.2). This mind of Christ produces a commitment to the same cause and same purpose in action. The unity is volitional rather than cognitive. We may disagree on how things may be understood or done but if we have the mind of Christ, we would not disagree on the purpose.

But above all, the mind of Christ is a humble mind: "Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves" (v.3). It  is not motivated by rivalry or conceit, but it is motivated by the thought that others are more important than ourselves. In other words, the humble person looks not just "to his own interests, but also to the interests of others" (v.3). The mind of Christ is one that is not looking out for itself, but looking out for others. It will do whatever it takes to serve others and ensure their spiritual, emotional and physical well-being.

And this mind is supremely demonstrated in the way Jesus humbled himself: "who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant,  being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross" (vv.6-8). He was willing to become least and last in order that He could become "obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." True humility is willing to die to self-interests, self-glory and self-ambition. That is the fruit of the mind of Christ. It demonstrates itself in its emotional and volitional commitment to further the interests of others. And it is completed by willing to pay the ultimate price of self-sacrifice for the sake of others.

Do we have the mind of Christ? Yes, indeed all believers already have it. But are we allowing the mind of Christ to rule in our lives? Or are we still ruled very much by our own carnal mind? The fruits will tell.

Abba-Father, may Your Spirit continue to release in us the mind of Christ, and put to death the carnal mind, so that we may fulfill Christ's agenda, Amen.

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