Two weeks ago, I ended with what might have seemed to be a rather strange statement: God became human, with all the limitations that suggests.
To discover more of what that means, we need to change gears a little. Christians have this funny phrase that they use when trying to overcome a problem or work on being better. Whenever we realise that there is something wrong with our thinking, we go round making funny claims like “I have the mind of Christ.” It certainly sounds cool. If we have the mind of Christ and think like God then no problem is too big, no addiction is too stubborn and no issue is too complex.
But what does this phrase actually mean? Is having “the mind of Christ” really about becoming an intellectual superpower? Actually, no, not at all. I’ll let Paul, one of the early Christians define what the mind of Christ actually is:
Paul is saying that if we have the mind of Christ, we will think like He did and how He thought was to humble Himself, even to the point of becoming human, even to the point of horrible, cruel, torturous death. Jesus’ thought pattern was centred on humility and love, putting others’ needs before His own.
If we want to know more about God, we need to start at this, the most unexpected discovery of them all. If Jesus is indeed the complete reflection of who God is (John 14: 9; Colossians 2: 9) then everything about Him tells us something about God. The mind of Christ reveals the character of God. Even more challenging, Paul suggests that it is this attitude, this character, that God asks of us.
There you go, God has done the unexpected again. Not content with blowing our minds with the act of becoming human and yet still being fully God, He now asks those who would follow Him to show the same kind of humility that He showed.
“Throw aside your ambitions for position, strip off selfishness and walk with the same attitude as I did,” He dares us. “Love people the way I did, as much as I did.”
I don’t know about you but that sounds like an almost impossible challenge to me. Even Paul would admit a few lines later that He hadn’t made it there yet (Phil 3: 8-14) but he did make that his top goal. For Paul, nothing else mattered except knowing Christ better and becoming like Him. Becoming more like Christ means, according to the verses we looked at, becoming more humble, becoming more loving.
You see, God became like us so we could become like Him. Jesus’ arrival on planet earth didn’t just offer us something but it asked something of us. When Jesus would later gather His followers, He would use two words to invite them to join Him: “Follow Me.” Today, it is these same words that we should hear when we think about what it meant for God to become human. Today, Jesus calls us to follow Him: to follow Him into new depths of love, new heights of humility and deeper ways of caring for others as a way of showing our love for Him.