Sleep on This: Having the Mind of Christ (March 31)
Good evening dear friend.
Crises such as that which we are facing bring out the best and the worst in people, including Christians. As I mentioned two nights ago, when we turn to Philippians 2, we are standing on scriptural holy ground, both for what it teaches us about ourselves AND about Jesus. For that reason, we are meandering our way lazily through this passage. Verses 1-11 (along with Philippians 4: 4-9) deserve to be read, re-read, and memorized, especially in a time like this.
Philippians 2:4 has just admonished us to look out, not only for our own interests, but the interests of others. Now Paul goes on to offer the supreme example of what that kind of neighbor-love looks like:
“Have this mind among yourselves which is yours in Christ Jesus…”
The Greek here is unclear. This verse might mean that, because the Spirit of Jesus lives in us, we already possess a Christ-like mindset…and just need to put it to use. OR, it might mean that Jesus is a model for how we ought to think…and we ought to emulate that model. Actually, you don’t need to choose. Both of these are true. The Spirit of Jesus is already at work changing the way Christians think…AND…we constantly look to Christ for an inspiring example of what it means to put others first.
Some of the encounters I’ve had on the sidewalks of our town have been hilarious. Of course, everyone offers a wide berth to those approaching from the other direction, in some cases walking out into the street! But there are two different “mindsets” obvious in these Covid-19 dosey-does. Some smile, nod and even speak to you as they walk by. But others avert their gaze, refuse to look at you and in some instances, pull the neck of their shirts up over their nose as if that will protect them from your invasive germy-ness.
I actually find it laughable…but it also reminds me of the lepers in the time of Christ who walked around, ringing a bell and crying out, “Unclean, unclean!!!!” I suddenly have a greater empathy for those poor, reviled, isolated souls. Everyone avoided them like the plague…literally.
Except Jesus. One of the most astounding things about the gospel stories is how Jesus touched (and healed) leprous skin. Now, I am NOT advocating a violation of social distancing! But I am suggesting that “having the mind of Christ” might AT LEAST mean looking at, smiling at, nodding to, speaking to that oncoming soul, however potentially contagious they might be! “Having the mind of Christ” means finding ways to honor and uplift each other, even as we war together against this invisible enemy.
Lord Jesus, as I lay me down to sleep, use these hours of rest and dreams to give me your mind, to teach me how to think of you and of others, to prepare me for my tomorrow when I will have another chance to practice thinking the way that you think. Amen.