Considering Jesus Challenge
Day 14, January 14, 2013, Monday
“Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:5-10
“Have this attitude,” Paul says.
Here’s the implied “you” again in an imperative statement. Paul is saying, “You have this attitude in yourselves.” By giving a command here, Paul directly implies that we have some measure of control over our emotions and attitudes. We could have a different attitude, a selfish one, but Paul says we can choose something better. We can choose, instead, to be like Jesus.
There are a few passages in Scripture that sometimes feel overwhelming to me. This is one of them. 1 Peter 1:15-16 is another one. It says, “But like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves in all your behavior, because it is written, ‘You shall be holy for I am holy.'” So, one day I’m just going to up and choose to be holy? Yesterday, I was a nightmare, but guess what? Today, voila, I’m holy.
Is it really that easy?
Does it just take a decision of my will to have the same attitude as Jesus?
I don’t like where this is going, because if this is the case, then all the New Year’s resolutions we’ve ever made to “do better,” to be “more like Christ,” or to be “Spirit-controlled” come down to the issue of the will and whether we’re successful in corralling it or not. The onus for success in this train of thought is completely on us – and I know I’ll fail.
Here’s another passage that may help. Romans 12:2 says, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is; that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Okay, so I can’t just conjure up an attitude. I can decide to be like Jesus, but I can’t instantaneously be like him without the empowering work of the Holy Spirit in my heart. Otherwise, I’m simply conforming my behavior to what I think Jesus wants. No, my life has to be transformed by his power not my inention. If I don’t access the Spirit’s power for the changes in my life, then all I have is external conformity, which is the same thing as stale, condemning religion. Conformity (change from the outside in) makes us look like one another, but transformation (change from the inside out) makes us more like Jesus.
What’s my responsibility then? My responsibility in all of these attitude adjustments is to be sure that I am “renewing my mind” so that Jesus can transform my spirit.
So, here are four questions that I’m praying through today:
- How am I actively renewing my mind and care-taking what goes into it?
- What does the transformation process look like in my life?
- Is there even a “process” involved in transformation or is it something that just happens to me while I’m in the midst of following Jesus?
- How do I cooperate with Jesus’ transformation of me?
If any of you want to chime in here, I’d love to hear how you would answer any one of the questions above! For now, I’ll keep meditating on them for the remainder of the day.
Considering Jesus Challenge Passage for Tomorrow, January 15, 2013:
The Woman Trapped in Adultery – John 8:1-11
© Copyright, 2013 by Donna Tallman.