Living in community with other Christians is always a challenge. The church is made up of such a disparate group of people. Jesus said: "all people will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35 Is this the reputation of our church?
How we can make this a reality? We an instructed to: “. . . in humility count others more significant than yourselves” Philippians 2:3. C. F. Hogg asserted that: "whenever we compare ourselves with others to our advantage, we are out of touch with Christ."
Recently we buried a man who believed the words of Jesus were to be lived out in life. He took to heart the command to mimic Christ's mind-set. Christ humbled Himself even to the death of the Cross in order that others might be spiritually blessed. Christ models the mind set that is to characterise us. Self-centeredness, the lack of a sacrificial spirit are foreign to the mind-set of Jesus. Philippians 2:5-8.
Paul regarded his own life as a sacrifice in the interests of the spiritual advancement of others. Paul's “sacrifice and service” is his willingness to not only to endure sufferings but also to lay down his life if that was going to advantage others. Philippians 2:17; 2 Timothy 4:6. Paul's mind-set meant the welfare of others was more important than his own personal agenda.
Paul claimed that the only person available to be sent to the church at Philippi was Timothy. Everyone else was obsessed with their own interests, not the interests of Christ Jesus. Everyone except Timothy had a non-christian mind-set! Which category do we fit into?
There is Epaphroditus who : “nearly died for the work of Christ, risking his life” Philippians 2:30. Epaphroditus had the same mind-set as Jesus. He placed the interests of others before his own. Do we?
Why is there disharmony? discord? friction? between Christians? Basically it is because we have the wrong mind-set.
Florence Alshorn was a missionary in Uganda. Conditions were difficult, the climate unhealthy, but the chief problem was the jealousies, the quarrels between missionaries. A senior missionary was a veritable pain in the neck! Seven young missionaries had come in seven years but none stayed.
One day Florence was sitting on the veranda crying her eyes out when an old African lady came and said: "I have been here for fifteen years I see you come. You say you bring us the Saviour but he never save this situation. You fellas got it all wrong."
Her words brought Florence to her senses with a bang. She was a contributor to the problem. She did not have the mind-set of Jesus. She resolved to change her thinking.
Every day for a year Florence read I Corinthians 13. Life became an adventure in learning to love instead of an agony. The old missionary became very fond of Florence and Florence of her. Later she wrote: "my colleague whom I have come to love very much."
The trouble stemmed from the fact that the missionaries knew Romans 5 "Christ died for us," but Romans 6, which tells us that we "have died with Christ," was like a foreign country to them. They hardly knew anything about it. If we want to make it easy for God to complete our salvation, let us spend time in Romans 6 and I Corinthians 13 in order not to be obsessed with self. “. . . may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all" 1Thessalonians 3:12. Let us adopt the mind-set of Jesus.
I am indebted to the late Mr Tom Carson for the missionary illustration
Dr Keith Graham