Conservative Christians know and understand that we deserve to be brought low. We know the law of God, we know our own sinfulness, and we know that the holiness of God casts us down. This is all good, as far as it goes, but we need to follow God’s purposes all the way out. God humbles us, which we deserve, but He also exalts us, which we do not deserve at all. This is often the point where we stumble.
“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:5-11).
SUMMARY OF THE TEXT:
In this great hymn on the obedience of Christ, the apostle Paul urges us to have the same mind in us that Christ had in Him (v. 5). He, before the Incarnation, was in the very shape of God (v. 6), and yet did not grasp after that. Instead, He submitted Himself to the will of the Father, and took on the shape of a servant or slave, being born in the likeness of men (v. 7). As if that were not enough, once He found Himself in the form of a human, He humbled Himself even further, accepting even death on the cross (v. 8). It was for this reason that God exalted Him highly, and gave Him a name above every name (v. 9). The result of this is that every knee will bow at the name of Jesus, whether in heaven, or on earth, or under the earth (v. 10). Every knee bows, and every tongue confesses that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (v. 11).
TOGETHER WITH CHRIST:
When Paul says that the mind of Christ should be in us, he is talking about the whole process. We do not just follow Christ to Jerusalem, to die with Him as Thomas said (John 11:16). We also follow Him to Heaven, where He is now seated. If we are united with Him in His death, we are also united with Him in His resurrection (Rom. 6: 4). We are crucified together with Him (Gal. 2:20), buried with Him (Col. 2:12), raised with Him (Eph. 2:6), and we ascend together with Him to be seated in Heaven (Eph. 2:7). We would say this in English by saying that we have been co-crucified, co-buried, co-raised, co-ascended, and co-seated.
THE PROBLEM . . .
Christians tend to accept all this, and to rejoice in it until we are back at square on. We are like the prodigal son who wants to be forgiven, and restored, but to be put up in the servants’ hall. He is not expecting the fatted calf to be killed, a party to be thrown, or a small jazz band to be hired. He wasn’t expecting the ring, or the best robe (Luke 15:22). He wasn’t expecting to be exalted. His older brother wasn’t expecting that either.
So this is where our faith staggers. We expect to be forgiven—that’s God’s job, right? But we don’t expect to be exalted, and when God moves to do this, we often fight Him. We throw ourselves to the floor in repentance, and when God reaches down to pick us up, we kick and bite and scratch. But it is not true humility to fight with God. If God has determined to do something, how is it abasing the creature to quarrel with His sovereignty. The Bible teaches both—we are told to humble ourselves so that God might lift us up (1 Pet. 5:6). We are to look forward to the joy, just like Jesus did. He was worthy of that joy, and we are not. So?
FOR US WHO BELIEVE:
This is a truth that is infinitely bigger than our heads and hearts, and yet God wants our heads and hearts to contain this truth anyway. This is why Paul prays for impossible things with regard to the Ephesians (Eph. 3:17-21). This is the focus of Paul’s prayers for them (Eph. 1:17-18). He wants them to know the glory of God’s inheritance in them (v. 18). Think of it.
“. . . That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all” (Eph. 1:17-21).
THIS MIND IN YOU:
Jesus is the new man. Jesus is the representative man. Everything He did is ours. Everything He said is ours. Everything He accomplished is ours. He has given us all things in Him, and He has told us to strive for all things in imitation of Him. And He did everything He did for the sake of the joy that was set before Him (Heb. 12:2). We are called to the same kind of thing.
Let this mind be in you . . .