Having the same attitude as Christ
I was doing some reading and looking at Philippians 2. I put some thoughts down about verses 5-11. Right before verse 5 we see the unity that Paul seeks for us to have. Unity will bring him greater joy than anything else. To achieve that unity, Paul wants us to consider others better. He wants us to look at others interest before our own. He wants us to not think about ourselves, but think about others. This is so that we will be of one mind. This is so we will be united as the church.
We have following this the possible hymn that the early church had. Paul leads into this hymn/song by saying, “Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus…”
So Paul commands us to make our attitude like Christ. Here is one of the many instances in Scripture in which we are called to be like Christ or God. Paul, James, and Peter tell us to be like Christ. Jesus tells us to be like God. We are to do everything we can to focus on being like God as to be perfect as He is. This is indisputable by Scripture. Our call is to perfection. I will not talk about how achievable that is if at all, but it is what we are to do. Perfection is our goal, not our enemy like is said by some (why in the world would we make perfection our enemy when Jesus Himself was perfection and the fact that our lack of perfection is what keeps us from God in the first place? Obviously through Jesus, God made a way for a lasting relationship with Him apart from perfection, but we should still try and maintain the best relationship with God through our unquestioned obedience and love to Him and His ways.)
So now in this hymn we get to focus on Jesus. Focusing on Jesus and His ways is the best thing in the world. Let’s explore these verses a little bit. Jesus existed in the form of God. Right there, we see Jesus divinity. Jesus is not like God. Jesus is God. In the form of God. I love that. This was the great debate in the early church. Anthanasius debated this full diety of God versus Arius in the council of Nicea in the fourth century. This would surley have been one of his defining passages (I didn’t check that though). The Greek phrase homoousia and homoiusia were debated. One meant of the same substance as God and the other meant of similar substance to God.
This is not where the great hymn stops though. The point of the hymn is not to stop with the diety of Christ. Paul is using the hymn to make a point. He is saying that yes Christ is God Himself, but look at what God Himself did: “[He] did not consider equality with God as something to be grasped.”
So God did not consider Himself equal with Himself. That doesn’t make any sense. It begins to make sense in how we relate to others. We who are no better than our other brothers and sisters in Christ, should not go around boasting of our greatness. Instead of saying we are greater or even EQUAL to other, we are to become subservient to them. We are not to look to be greater, but less than those around us, no matter our status in comparison to them by worldly standards. By spiritual standards, we are less than those around us.
Christ who IS God “emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of me.” So God became man. He became a slave. He was no longer the creater, but he became the created. He didn’t even become great among us. Born in a manger. Brought up the son of an ordinary carpenter not even of royalty. Christ became a lowly slave not the great. We are to model that in our churches so that we can help create unity.
I’m beginning to see this passage more and more in the context of creating unity. We are to become subservient to those in the church. We are to consider others better. We are to look at their interests. We are to have Christ’s attitude towards them, the attitude of being a slave to them. When we do that, we will be united in mission and in purpose. Everyone is equally submissive to each other, so we are left with nothing apart from following the Word of God in bringing His kingdom here to earth.
We continue go on further like Christ did, “He became obedient to death, even death on a cross.” We must reach the point of servitude to the members of the church around us to where we WOULD die for them. We need to be willing to lay down our lives to die for our brothers and sisters in Christ.
I can’t help but to go on a tangent to talk about how this impacts loving the poor. Jesus is the poor (Matthew 25). We are to love Jesus. We are to love the poor as our brothers and sisters (1 John 3:17). We now need to get to the point in which we would die for them around us. We must take the attitude of Christ to where we would die for our brothers and sisters who are poor on the street of L.A. and in the slums of India. When we are willing to die for our brothers and sisters, we are willing to fellowship with them, eat with them, pray with them, give them a place to sleep, help them with resources to become more productive members of the kingdom. We MUST die for them to bring about unity like Christ did to unite us with Himself!
Then we go on to see the beauty of the end of the hymn in which EVERY knee bows to praise Jesus. Everyone is going to do it. We might as well be willing to do it. We might as well submit to Christ so that we joyfully and lovingly praise the wonderful feet of Jesus instead of being forced to pledge fealty to Christ by the power of His glory. I really do long for the day in which I get to praise Jesus infront of Him. I can’t wait to look at the fullness of His glory and fall down in fear, reverence, and love for God Himself.