“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.”
We come to ‘holy ground’ today in our Epistle reading; the text that Michael Gorman describes as “Paul’s Master Story.” The ‘Story’ describes the Creator’s attitudes and actions towards and within his creation; in other words, God’s ‘history’ within ‘our world.’
It begins outside of ‘time and space’ by describing the ‘Son’s’ attitude and actions regarding his own status and dignity:
‘Though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped.’
The eternal attitude of the ‘Son’ within the ‘Godhead’ is to NOT ‘grasp’ or ‘hold onto’ his own status and dignity; and this attitude both predates and determines all subsequent actions.
‘but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.’
The Incarnation is itself the first action that flows from the divine attitude, and it is stunning: the exchange of the divine status for that of our human one! But the story goes on:
‘And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.’
The exchange of status gives rise to the choice of an active, humble life of service, all in ‘(loving) obedience’ to his Father’s will; a choice that is utterly full, even unto death on the cross.
THIS is the record of the Creator’s attitude towards and actions for his Creation; one who ‘shared God’s intrinsic dignity’ chose this humble, sacrificial, obedient way of life.
And to what end?
‘Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.’
The life of humble, sacrificial obedience to the Father and for the creation is matched by the Father’s ultimate vindication. He-this humble human sacrifice- is ‘highly exalted’ (that is, exalted as highly as possible), and ‘bestowed the (divine) name’ (not given for the first time, but publicly declared for all time—and given to THIS human being).
This vindicated status has ultimate implications for all of creation and history: ‘EVERY knee shall bow…and EVERY tongue confess THAT JESUS THE MESSIAH is LORD’ –That THIS rejected and humiliated failure has been vindicated as the Lord of history, the Lord of Heaven and Earth.
And all of this is ‘to the glory of God the Father’—ordered according to the will and the plan of the Creator.
THIS is the story of the Creator’s history in and for his creation; and a stunning history it is!
But note, the reason that Paul retells the ‘Story’ is to remind his readers that the Creators’ history within creation (his attitude towards it, and the actions that flow from it) is to become the pattern and orientation of the creature!
‘Have THIS mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.’
WE are to have ‘THIS mind’ –literally, this MINDSET, this ORIENTATION towards life- ‘among ourselves’ – first and foremost within the Christian community, so that, secondarily, it may flow out to the wider creation.
THIS is the mindset that needs to shape our lives, in ever increasing ways!
For THIS is the only way of life that will be vindicated by the Father.