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Across the Pastor’s Desk: The mind of Christ in each of us

Across the Pastor’s Desk by Todd Walsh

I read a Bible passage this past week that on the surface appeared to be an impossible and ridiculous proposition. But it is not so. It is in fact remarkable in its ability to create new possibilities.

Todd Walsh

Philippians 2 gives us some guidance:

“Be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.”

The first sentence calling for us to have one mind might have some good possibilities. We are united and together. There is no conflict and we all live in harmony. I’m all for it — if — my mind is the model.

Then we get more:

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.”

Oops. My plan to be the model is out. That would be selfish, and I would be looking to my own interests.

Then we are given the punch line:

“Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus.” 

There is the model. It is our Lord Jesus Christ.  There is no chance anyone can match that model. And the writer of Philippians knows that will be the reaction to those words. So he pens a hymn that speaks of the wonder of our Lord and draws us into what he has done:

“5 Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,

6 who, though he was in the form of God,

   did not regard equality with God

   as something to be exploited,

7 but emptied himself,

   taking the form of a slave,

   being born in human likeness.

And being found in human form,

8 he humbled himself

   and became obedient to the point of death—

   even death on a cross.”

Then that hymn goes further. We are drawn to confess him and join him in sharing the life he gives.

9 Therefore God also highly exalted him

  and gave him the name

  that is above every name,

10 so that at the name of Jesus

   every knee should bend,

   in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

11 and every tongue should confess

   that Jesus Christ is Lord,

   to the glory of God the Father.”

It is Memorial Day weekend. I recall the sight of the markers at Arlington National Cemetery and Fort Snelling National Cemetery. We can see the flags in any cemetery that marks the ones who gave of themselves. Some paid the ultimate price. All paid some price for their service.

The markers and flags of those who served are the markers of men and women who did not look to their “own interests, but to the interests of others.” And some “became obedient to the point of death.” This is the mind of Christ alive in the life of the children of God.

The same mind is in the lives of those who all around us put their lives on the line to watch over and protect us — all the men and women of the armed forces, law enforcement, fire services and ambulance services.

The same mind is in those who give of themselves for the benefit of others. We do that in our charity shared of our earnings and efforts. We do that in the efforts we make for family, friends and even strangers.

The same mind is in those who give of themselves in the medical profession during these challenging and dangerous times. The first year of the present pandemic has seen the death of 3,600 medical professionals in America. Their giving of body and spirit is the mind of Christ among us.

It is the same mind that puts on those face masks or receives that vaccine.  Yes, it is done for self-protection. But we can see the mind of Christ that does these things also to protect others and to help in some small way to stop a deadly virus from spreading or even mutating into a more dangerous version of itself.

It is also graduation season. It is indeed a time to celebrate the accomplishment of the graduate. It is also a time to celebrate the people who stood by the graduate and gave of themselves to guide and inspire — and help with expenses.

“Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus.” This is no ridiculous or impossible proposition. It is the life our Lord Jesus has given for us in such abundance that we are able to live it and to share it.

Todd Walsh is the director of spiritual care services at Thorne Crest Senior Living Community in Albert Lea.