My second year of seminary I took a class called Reading the Audiences. The main point of the class was to gain an understanding of how to enter into different faith communities and learn the background, structure, history, struggles, and joys of that community. At the beginning of each class we began with scripture and a prayer, not unusual at Luther Seminary. However, in this class we spent all ten weeks with this particular passage as our devotion. We read different translations, such as the NRSV, Message, etc. We read it out loud, silently, and with different emphasis on various words. We read it in pieces, as a whole, and more. Who knew there were so many different ways to read the same scripture passage! Even more, who knew there was so much to hear and learn from the same scripture passage! Each week that we pondered this passage, we heard God speak to us in a different voice. Sometimes a specific word or phrase caught our attention. Sometimes we felt challenged and at other times comforted. At some points confused or even frustrated. And yet, it was the same scripture passage. It came to show how much depth there is in scripture and how God speaks to us when we listen.
Often called the “Christ Hymn” we are told by Paul in this passage to have the same mind, same love, and to be in full accordance with Christ Jesus. Whoa Paul! Easier said that done! How can I, a broken and tattered human, be in the same mind as Jesus–the one who has no sin? How can I, a broken and tattered human, sacrifice the way Christ sacrificed for me? How can I, a broken and tattered human be humble, obedient, and lay everything out for God? And then I remember, it is not about “I”, it’s about the work God is doing.
First, Jesus had equality with God and he chose to have this without exploitation and with full obedience. Then Jesus came in human form, emptied himself out, and became a slave. Finally, he ascended, becoming highly exulted so that we may know God through him and remember that God is at work in us the same way God was at work through Jesus.
Christ came to be like us so that we may be like Christ.
This is our reminder that God gives us the desire, the energy, and the will to bring Christ’s compassion in the world.
As your read this passage below (preferably multiple times), what is it that you hear? What words or phrases jump at you? What questions or comments to you have? What do you wonder about? Please share, for as we explore we realize that we are not done because P.S. There’s More.
1 If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, 2 make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. 5 Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, 7 but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, 8 he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death — even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. 12 Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.