Philippians 2:5 "Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus"
Today Iíd like to consider, what it really is, to be a Christian. Why, because in the world today, the thought is that if you live a good life, youíll earn your way to heavn, and thatís what Ďfaithí is all about. Now while its true that Christians avoid evil, and seek to do good, by itself this is hardly a definition of what it is to be a Christian. In the catechism, a summary of the whole Bible, we have learned that there are only 2 religions in the world.
This is the first point at which we have difficulty. Only 2? There are thousands of kinds of Christian churchs, and hundereds of kinds of Lutheran churchs, there are cults, sects, new age movements, and there are growing numbers of religions which are clearly not Christian. And yet we still maintain that there are only 2 religions. This is the distinction we make, Christians believe in justification by grace through faith, for Christís sake, and everything else teaches that you are saved by doing good works. When a Christian dies, the mourners speak of what God in Christ has done to bring the person to faith, forgive them their sins, make them a new creation, and enable them to live lives of faith. When anyone else dies, the talk is about how they lived a good life, hopefully good enough to get to heaven.
If the emphasis is on what God has done for us, in Christ, that has called, gathered, enlightened and kept us in faith unto life everlasting; then this is exactly what we would expect to find in our text; and we do! In our text the emphasis is on what God has done for us in Christ. Unfortunately, when we read: "Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus" the 1st thing to capture our attention is "Have", and that sounds like something we can do, so we set out to do it. We set before ourselves the goal of thinking Christian thoughts, making Christian decisions, searching for Godís Will, . . . The problem is that while the world has taught us that "have" is important, thatís the sum of all the adversting that every was, if youíd only "have" this life would be much better. "Have" is an example of reading the Bible through the eyes of worldly wisdom, wisdom that is perishing, foolishness to God, and which leads us to destruction. "Have" is an example of how the world has tried to take Godís Word and turn it into a religion of works.
Well, how do you read the Bible? By grace through faith, and faith and grace are both gifts of God, so we read the Bible focusing on what God is doing to bring salvation to us. When God is the focus of our attention, and we again read the text: "Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus". The thing that catches our attention is this: "which is yours in Christ Jesus". This is grace, God is giving us something here, thatís grace.
And now we get to the real problem, weíre not ready to accept anything more. Our lives are too full, we donít have enough time. We canít get organized. We canít give anything up. Itís all important. Weíve added it all, that we might feel fulfilled. They are all good things, that should make us feel good. And about at this time perhaps youíre seeing that somehow someone sold you a religion of works; its rarely overt, it just sneaks in subtly, but then thatís how the devil works.
The answer is easy. Let go. We all know the story of the man who fell over the cliff, and as he was falling, he happend to grab hold of a small branch growing out of the face of the cliff, and as heís holding on, and calling out for help, and praying to God, God answers, and Godís answer is Ďlet go of the branchí. Let go, confident and trusting only in Godís hands to bear you up. Let go, believe in Jesus. Let go, follow Jesus own example:Phil 2:7-9 "Jesus, emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name"
When we empty ourselves, we give room for God to fill our lives with every grace and blessing. When we empty ourselves, we give room for guide to guide us in the way we should go. When we empty ourselves, we find that there is room for salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. When we empty ourselves, it is much easier to given thanks and praise, glory and honor to God, for then we can see, that He has filled us, and given us a full and complete salvation in Jesus.