Sunday, April 17, 2011

It' is all in your Pastor Bettye

April 17th, 2011 Palm Sunday Philippians 2: 5 – 11 It’s All In Your Mind 5 In your relationships with one another have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! 9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Phil. 2:5-11 Grace, mercy and peace to you this day in the name of the one to whom we bow our heads, bend our knees and commit our very beings, Jesus Christ our Savior and lord! Paul gives his friends in Philippi and us a hymn which outlines the who, how and why of Jesus as well as the call to respond to the knowledge we are granted in this hymn. It is not as simple as just “hearing” these words of the Christ Hymn – we are called to LIVE IT! Paul calls his friends in Philippi and us to be of the “mind of Christ”. Paul gives us the original answer to the question “What would Jesus Do?” by telling his listeners (and us) who Jesus was so that they may be of the same mind. Paul was writing to hard headed, frightened and confused disciples at a time of great oppression. “Who was this Jesus”, they probably pondered (as I dare say so do we at times) and “what do we do with this knowledge?” as they also (and us!) probably wonder. How do we make “Jesus” fit into our world and our life understanding of God? Paul begins by telling us to have the “same mind of Jesus”. What does this mean? In the Greek translation of the word “Mind” you can find several meanings for one word. They are all related, which helps the student of scripture. In the original translation of this text Paul begins the hymn by telling us to,”think on, have an opinion, an understanding, belief, intention, continue to think on, and think in such a way as to honor and respect”. Paul places an emphasis on this state of mind as central to the faith. He believes that our mindset, how we “think” is so important to Christians that he uses this phrase thirty-nine times in his letters. Paul encourages an attitude like Christ and thus a shared attitude by thus who claim to faithfully follow him…then and now. In the life of Christ it is easy to see what a mind set of Christ would be like: selflessness and humble regard for others and their interests, a willingness to sacrifice for the sake of others, an obedient child of God Almighty – even to the point of death on a cross. This is more than just an “attitude of gratitude" my friends! This is the mindset of a servant. This mindset naturally initiates certain actions by those who claim to be followers of the Christ. If we are in Christ, not only are we new creations, we share a new way of thinking in this world – a shared way of thinking. Clearly Paul had never been to a church council meeting! Contemporary debates and matters of contention between those of the “Christ-like” mindset can create challenges in congregations both in the days of Paul and now. Look at how many was we have of expressing our faith in Christ throughout the modern age. It is a wonder that writers of our history would be able to see our common mindset in Christ! Pluralism, racial, gender and sexual orientation discrimination, class lines and political leanings all serve to fracture that mindset we are to have in Christ. These challenges cannot be removed from our very diverse society but as Paul teaches Christians need to be ever so much more sensitive and aware of our mind in Christ as a standard for dealing with this world and its issues, a mindset and life style which exhibits selflessness and humility in regard to others especially in times of unrest and turmoil. As Christians we must show actions which reflect ourselves as children of the King of King and Lord of Lords. We cannot do this on our own power, we do this though a faithful existence based on God’s work in Christ; the work God has done in reconciling us to himself in the cross. We are then called to a faithful and faith-filled response. This is a life time endeavor. The life of faith is best done – in community; loving, sharing, holding up never casting down or aside another, correcting the wrongs together and celebrating the rights of others to God’s glory. Christ is exemplified in our actions as a community or he is diminished – it is up to our mindsets which guide our actions as it did Christ: Take the form of a slave…..humble yourself to all and become obedient to the point of death –death to your own prejudices and reactions….Acting this way will make us different as it did Christ. Acting this way as a church will make the church different – not just an extension of the world. Christ took this mindset to the grave and beyond to secure our salvation. How far can we go to change our mindsets for his glory?

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