Having the mind of Christ (The cross and all of life – Part II)

Have this mind among  yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus”-Phil 2:5

A transcription of a sermon on humility preached by Rev. Martin Holdt.
Read Part 1 here

Read Philippians 2: 5 – 11

The Mind of Christ

We read in Phil 2:4  “complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind” The apostle Paul was writing to a church where there was the threat of schism.  We read in Philippians 4 verse 2:  “I beseech you Iuodia and Syntyche to be of the same mind”  It seemed thus that the two women were at loggerheads and it could easily spill over, especially when it is two women, into the rest of the church and there were probably others too.  We don’t know.  He continue (Phil 2:3) “do nothing from rivalry or conceit”.  Why does he say that to a church consisting of Christians ? Well, its because the potential is there and if you have sized up churches in the world in which we live, you know it’s there and it can happen at a moment’s notice. What’s the antidote? O if we just had a church of Jesus Christ today where there was glorious, undivided unity, the unity of God the Holy Spirit. But it is not the case. Is it not time to weep over it?.  Paul continues: “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but to the interests of others.  Have this mind among  yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus”, and then he tells us about Jesus,  and the  Calvary road that Jesus took when He became obedient to death, even the death on the cross.

Carry the Cross in all of Life

You would have noticed on the program that I titled this message The Cross in All of Life.  Why did I do that?  Because here is something you have to carry with you in all of life.  You’ve got to do that as an individual.  There are far too many unhappy Christians.  Now what’s that got to do with this. Just bear with me, I’ll tell you why.  Some Christians are perpetually in the dole drums and you wonder whether they will ever get out of it.  We as pastors know that. They come to see us and we weep with them and we want to help them, but they keep on coming.

Holiness brings joy

Yes, you will say to me, surely it is not happiness, it is holiness we must pursue.  I think we should get rid of the idea that holiness excludes happiness.  Yes, holiness is our goal, holiness is the thing that we pursue day and night, for without it we shall not see the Lord.  But you know, holiness leads to, what the Biblical term suggest ‘blessedness’.  We read  in Psalm 1 v 1.  “Blessed is the man” and then he goes on to describe him.  David did not hesitate to talk about joy. Psalm 4 verse 7 “You have given me more joy than in the time of their wine and feasting”.  As if to say, God you have given me much more happiness of heart than the world  boasts about.   Think of Paul and Silas in the Philippian  jail.  Paul, as a Roman citizen, had certain rights.  He followed his Master’s example and did not insist on them, in this case.  He endured the lash of a Roman whip and his feet put in stocks in a subterranean dark and wet cell.  He started to sing in the middle of the night, praises to God.  No wonder Campbell Morgan  said, if I were Silas, I would have sung alone, but they sang together.

Nothing for Myself

Years ago I read about a Chinese Christian, she was a lady. Everybody in her church knew her as a lady who seemed to be perpetually overcome with the glory and wonder of what Christ did.  Listen, I am not apologetic about saying this to you, she was so happy.  One day somebody discovered that she had written on the inside cover of her Bible:  Lord, I want nothing for myself.  And she lived like that.

Here is Jesus; waived his rights because He wanted the Father to be glorified and because He wanted to pay the penalty for the sins of His chosen, loved people, in order that they might be saved.  That’s what He thought about, the Father’s glory, the Father’s will.  That’s why He obeyed even to death, even the death of the cross.

The calvary road is not a road of self-pity

Look at the scenario in so many churches and in so many people today.  Full of self-pity.  What’s wrong with us?  Think of the typical South African lingo: “Ag shame, poor me! ” Some of you know that I had written articles and often spoken about depression.  I am still being asked to talk about it and that tells me one thing:  there are a lot of depressed Christians around.  But I am going to make a confession at this conference. When I look back at the five and a half years of my depression, it was selfish and I regret it. But I am slowly learning all about the Calvary Road.  Stop feeling sorry for yourself, because when you do you are grieving the Holy Spirit.  And you are a stranger to what these verses are telling you to be, in your mind.

Let this mind be in you

You think you are having a raw deal, whatever your case. Let me tell you, you don’t deserve any better nor do I.  And in any case, when you really look, hard and fast, at the providences of God in your life, you have to admit that the lines have fallen to you on pleasant places.  So stop feeling sorry for yourself, and begin to walk the Via de la Rosa with Jesus.  Take a long, hard look at the cross.  Let the message of the cross sink into your soul.  And then say to yourself: “let this mind be in me.”

 What joy did Jesus look forward to?

Why did Jesus put up with so much suffering?  Endured the pain of the cross, despising the shame, for the joy that was set before him.  What joy?  Amongst others, that this way of pain and shame and obedience would end up into a vast number of people being redeemed by His blood.

Your will Father, not mine

I want to take it a step further and talk about believers in the church.  I do a bit of travelling, and when you mix and move with people all over the world who are in churches you find many who would, like the singer Frank Sinatra (the older folk will remember him)sang in one of his songs: “I want it my way”.  There are believers today who cannot take this road, because they want it their way. That is grievous to God.  Does that square with Jesus in Gethsemane?  There again it ties up with this.  He’s facing the most awful death ever experienced by man.  No wonder, in anticipation of that ghastly severance between Him and the Father, as He was being loaded with the sins of His people, “Father, take this cup from me. Nevertheless not as I will, but as You will.” May God inscribe that upon our hearts today, and may it be indelibly imprinted upon our hearts and minds and consciences.

Jesus’s unselfish love

Look at Him on the cross. Just look.  His heart is going out to other people.  If it is not to the repentant thief whom He forgave in the dying moments of his life, then it was to Mary.  He cares for her.  To John he said: “behold your mother” and to Mary: “behold your son”. Then, staggering, to his executioners: “Father forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing”. He finds extenuating circumstances for their deed.

Timothy

You know, it is wonderful for me to see that later in the chapter the apostle Paul mentions two people who seems to me to have got the message.   When next you read Philippians chapter 2, put those two together. Just scroll down to verse 19 to 21: “I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon so that I too may be cheered by news of you for I have no one like him who would be genuinely concerned for your welfare.  They all seek their own interests, but not those of Jesus Christ, but you know Timothy’s proven worth.”  What a commendation!  Why is it there! It is there to teach you and teach me, and he is not finished.

Epaphroditus

There was another man who took the road that He’s suggesting, of a Saviour who lived and died to save us, that was Epaphroditus.  Amazing.  It tells us, from verse 25,  “I have thought it necessary to send you Epaphroditus , my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need, for he has been longing for you all and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill.” I have never heard of anything like that after this letter.  The man is sick unto death.  But he is bothered about the fact that other people are bothering about him.  He knew !.  Compare Diotrephes (3 Jn 1:9). He loved himself. He knew nothing about the Calvary road.

Self is the worst idol

Thirdly, in a world where ego trips and misery go hand in hand – yes I say that.  It may seem to you sometimes as if the world is having a gorgeous time.  But if you take a closer look, people are miserable.  And if they don’t show it, behind closed doors they are.  Calvin said it:  “The human heart is a factory of idols.”  The biggest and worst idol is self.  We are meant to be different.  Look at verse 13 and 14: “Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and a twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world”.   You can shine as lights in the world when you take the route that the apostle Paul is telling you to take, whoever you are.

 Servant leadership

Finally, as church leaders.  What’s happened to servant leadership?  You remember how Jesus handled the situation when His disciples were jostling for power, and talking about it.  Matthew chapter 20 verse 25:  “Jesus called them to Him and said to them you know that the rulers of the Gentiles lorded over them and the great ones exercised authority over them”.  That could very well be a description of today’s world.  Businessmen and professional men have to assert their authority, they say.  They need to jack up their self-image, they say, and are taught at their seminars.  And Jesus says it shall not be so among you but whoever might be great among you, must be your servants, and whoever would be first among you, would be your slave.  And here it comes: “ even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”(Mt 20:28)

Why are there any churches where there is such a thing as authoritarianism?  And I am sorry to say, it has crept into Reformed churches too.  It is a contradiction of Jesus’ example namely Servant leadership.

A Call to action

There is no option.   What are you going to do about this?  All of you, every one of you – men, women, children.  Think again and say to yourself: God owes you nothing and what have you got that you did not receive? You have been blessed, far beyond your deserts.  You are better off than you deserve.

“Let this mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus. Who though He was in the form of God did not count equality with God as something 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 becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on the cross.”

And when you take that route God will honour you because you will be honouring God.  There is no other way.

Prayer:  Father we are moved when we read this and we think about this and yet we are ashamed.  At moments we’ve been caught off guard, feeling so miserably sorry for ourselves.  Deliver us, Lord Jesus.  You came to save your people from their sins.  We confess freely, we need to be saved from our sins.  Help us, o Lord Jesus Christ to follow You, to walk with You, to be what you want us to be, and to be that for time until eternity. We continue to worship You, the Lamb upon His throne.  Amen.

Worthy is the Lamb Who was slain to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honour and glory and blessing.  To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honour and glory and might, for ever and ever and the four living creatures said amen.

You can listen to the full sermon here

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