Epistle to the Philippians 2: 5-11 (NIV)
5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became 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 confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
How consistent is your attitude, day to day, week to week, hour by hour?
The Apostle Paul demands that our attitudes should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.
Paul tried to emphasise what we are unable to comprehend: the extent to which Jesus stepped down, abandoning his exalted place in the close relationship of the Trinity in order to don the constraints of a human body – initially of a helpless infant. Even more challenging to our limited understanding is that Jesus stepped aside from the intimacy he shared with the Father and the Spirit, one consequence of which was that he was to be cut off from God completely as he hung on the cross.
“He humbled himself” – what a gigantic understatement! He became obedient to the point of the death of his mortal body and, worse, the severing of that loving bond in God, a bond that had been maintained since the beginning of all things.
And, said Paul, our attitude should be the same! The attitude expected of us is to be the same as that of Christ Jesus!
I am sure you have encountered people overwhelmed by invidious attacks. In this place vile allegations can be made – how is a follower of Christ to respond to those? Public humiliation by the use of harsh words is not uncommon. How is a follower of Christ to respond? Occasionally a life is threatened. Even these instances, however, might not be as challenging as situations we hear about in Nigeria, Syria and Iraq where Christian children, women and men are being forcibly removed from their homes and their cities, in many cases then to be crudely executed.
Your attitude, said Paul, should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.
Of course there is an “upside”. At the beginning of chapter 2, Paul wrote:
1 If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.
To sustain an attitude which is the same as that of Christ Jesus, we must rely not simply on our own resources but on the “fellowship with the Spirit”. Wounded by vile allegations or public humiliation, we must seek “the comfort of his love”. Even discouragement that our best intentions can be misunderstood, that humility is regarded as weakness or that we are held in such poor esteem that someone would threaten our being must be countered by grasping and valuing the “encouragement from being united with Christ”.
We can be encouraged too that the time approaches when “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow”.