Part 1: The Most Important Thing | Part 2: Moving to the Dump | Part 3: It Gets Worse | Part 4: And Worse | Part 5: Reversal | Part 6: Risen | Part 7: Ascended | Part 8: Enthroned | Part 9: Coming Again
So what’s involved in “let[ting] this mind be in [us], which was also in Christ Jesus”? In what ways ought we to think like Christ?
It’s easy to find things to imitate in the first stanza of Paul’s hymn, the humiliation phase:
- We should be willing to give up comfort as not something to be grasped. We should not hang on to our possessions, or our status, or our circumstances. As Christ was confident in his standing as the Son of God, we should be confident in our standing as his sons and daughters, whom he will protect, and for whom he will provide all that we need. We should see our goods as resources to be invested rather than riches to be hoarded.
- We should willingly endure discomfort, even death, for the sake of others. As Christ loves his creatures, those in his image, so should we. Even when they treat us viciously or offend our sensibilities. Or when they’re just gross. If Jesus’ life was not too much to give for their benefit, how could ours possibly be?
- We should obey the Father no matter what. When we know what he wants us to do—when we see his will revealed in the Scriptures—we should disregard the cost, whether personal, social, financial, or whatever, and Just Do It.
- We should see Christ’s death as an exaltation. If he “despis[ed] the shame” of the cross (He 12.2), so should we. I feel I must add, given the climate of our times, that there’s no need to be a jerk as an ambassador of Christ, but we should not back down from the truth of the gospel.
At this point in the passage some may think that there’s nothing further in Christ’s thinking that we should imitate. We shouldn’t seek to be exalted, should we? We shouldn’t seek to have a name that is above every name, should we?
Of course not. But there’s still much in Christ’s thinking that we might—indeed must—imitate.
In the first post of this series I wrote, “Jesus did not humble himself in order to be exalted; he was already exalted, as verse 6 makes clear. He humbled himself, first, in obedience to the Father’s plan, and second, to rescue those he loved as his creatures in his image. The exaltation unavoidably followed.”
We can imitate him in those two areas:
- We can make our first priority our obedience to the Father’s will; and
- We can love and seek the benefit of those he loves, those who are in his image.
Are there specific ways to do that implied in this passage? I think so:
- We can see Christ’s authority as good and right, as he himself did. That is the important first step to obeying him—which is to obey the Father, since Christ’s will is one with the Father’s.
- We can see serving others as appropriate, even if they are “beneath” us. If Jesus can serve his people from his exalted place at the Father’s right hand, how can anyone be “beneath” us?
- We can be devoted to his plan and purpose, as he is. We can live in the light of the biblical metanarrative, which is the essence of his plan:
- We are God’s creatures, created for his glory and not our own.
- We are fallen and in need of his constant help; we are not wise to trust ourselves implicitly.
- We have been rescued from our fallenness and are thus both God’s servants and his sons and daughters.
- We are destined for glory and perfect service, in the Father’s good time.
- We can resist God’s defeated enemy as our enemy too, with confidence in his final defeat. We can live without fear.
- We can trust Christ’s delay in coming. We can carry on with strength and anticipation of his good will for us.