The Cover Tune for Community2
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
Every great band has a signature song. This one is probably Paul’s.
To be fair, it’s likely that Paul is quoting a hymn or poem that was in circulation at the time, one that he probably didn’t write. So let’s call this his signature cover tune. Whatever. We’re just glad that he included it in this letter to the Philippians. It’s gold.
Nerdy theologians for centuries have plumbed the depths of the theological sophistication here. Jesus was in very nature God? Thousands of books have been written about this (pro and con). What does it mean that Jesus was equal to God yet didn’t use that to his own advantage? What does it teach us about God and about what it means for us to follow Jesus that he took the nature of a servant and humbled himself all the way to death? And what about the soaring heights that Jesus is crowned with on the other side of that death?
All of this, super-important. But the set-up. Don’t miss Paul’s set-up in verse 5.
Paul obviously wants his readers to understand the significance of Christ. But what he’s calling them to in this particular passage is how understanding Christ might shape them into a Christ-like community. Together is only possible if we’re willing to have Christ’s mindset.
And what did that mindset look like? Humility. Sacrifice. Self-emptying. Obedience to the Father. Following the Jesus way as we’re on the way is what empowers us to do this life together in community.
Ultimately, this is the path that leads to fullness of redemption and fullness of community.
Re-read the verses 5-8 above again, slowly. What words, phrases or images stand out to you? How might you adopt this same mindset today? What difference do you think it would make in your relationships with the people around you? Name one or two relationships where you especially need the mindset of Christ in your life right now and ask for Jesus to give it to you.