Once again, we’ve entered one of the most sacred times in the Christian calendar, Lent, the period of spiritual self-examination from Ash Wednesday till just before Easter (this year, Feb. 17 through April 1). For this year’s Lenten columns, I’d like you to join me in reflecting on words from the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Philippian church that call us to emulate a particular attitude in our lives together – the very attitude Jesus had in His earthly time among us (Philippians 2:3-9).
Although the congregation in Philippi had many positive things going for it, there were a few issues that particularly troubled the apostle, among them behaviours that continue to echo down to us this very day: a tug of war among egos and competing self-interests.
To counter this, he urges the Philippians to look at Jesus’ very own example. After all, if anyone ever had reason to strut his stuff, Jesus did. But He didn’t!
“Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,” he writes, and then quotes from an early church hymn to emphasize the better way. Here was Jesus, the essence of divinity, who comes among us with the flesh-and-blood humility of a servant, not thumping His chest as if to say, “Look at me, aren’t I the greatest?” but with humility and integrity as a person of compassion, identifying with the poor, the lonely, the lame, the blind and the marginalized.
And then He dies a criminal’s death on a cross! And even in those agonizing hours leading up to His crucifixion, when He could have just walked away from His sacred place in history, yes, He prays to His Father for some way out of this mess, but concludes, “Nevertheless, not my will, but Thine be done.” And “as a lamb before its shearers is dumb, so He opened not His mouth.”
But then comes Easter morning, and the redemptive will of the Father reaches down to Jesus and highly exalts Him – a reminder to all of us that life doesn’t end at the grave!
The days of Lent, then, provide us an opportunity to reconsider our own attitudes in the light of what we read about Jesus in the Gospels.
How about you, my coffee companions? For this Lenten series of columns, would you care to share with us insights you’ve gained into the mind of Christ from your reading of the Gospels that have been helpful to you? I’d love to hear from you.
Let me close with words from Clara Scott’s 1895 hymn that prays that our eyes and hearts will be open to the mind of Christ:
Open my eyes, that I may see / Glimpses of truth Thou hast for me; / Place in my hands the wonderful key / That shall unclasp and set me free. / Silently now I wait for Thee, / Ready, my God, Thy will to see; / Open my eyes – illumine me, / Spirit divine!
© 2021 Warren Harbeck