How to Think Like Jesus

Jesus in Stained Glass

A sermon idea based on Philippians 2:1-11.

The Big Idea

The way of Jesus is the way of radical love, and this selfless kind of love can absolutely change the world if we as Jesus’ followers are simply willing to live it out.

Philippians 2:1-11 NRSV

[1] If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, [2] make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. [3] Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. [4] Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. [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. [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.

If asked to describe Jesus, we would have a range of words to pick from. He is perfect. He is loving. He is wise. He is powerful. He is gracious. But in all of Scripture, Jesus only describes Himself with adjectives one time, in Matthew 11:28-30, in which he says he is “gentle and humble in heart.”

Jesus was definitely counter-cultural.

He didn’t say he was awesome, successful, influential, or really cool. He was, instead, something rarer than any other quality among human beings.

Jesus was unselfish.

Therefore, following Jesus definitely means cultivating a gentle and humble heart. Following him means the continual pursuit of unselfishness as a way of thinking and a way of life.

Here are

1. Cultivate Spirit-given attitudes.

I recently read The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World. The book has three authors – the Dalai Lama, the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and Douglas Carlton Abrams. Abrams serves as the interviewer who draws out Tutu and the Dalai Lama’s wisdom and insight about joy.

One of these leaders represents eastern mysticism and Buddhism in particular while the other represented western Christianity. Their theology couldn’t have had more differing foundational ideas, but both shared the same essential conclusion.

Joy and peace come from within.

You’ll never find joy or peace from any external source regardless of how tenacious your pursuit. Joy must absolutely be found within you.

Coming up in the evangelical tradition trained me to disqualify ideas such as this one on the grounds of the depravity of man. Joy can’t come from within you, it must come from above, right? From God?

That argument isn’t necessarily wrong, but the question becomes, WHERE within you do these qualities arise?

And my answer would be, in the holiest of sacred places within the temple that is you where the Spirit of God meets with you and gives you what you need.

And what does the Spirit impart to us from within the holy center of our souls?

Encouragement. Consolation. Compassion. Sympathy. And more.

2. Seek unity with others.

Paul is not asking us to think with uniformity, but with unity. Uniformity is when we think like each other, but spiritual unity is achieved as we all help each other to think like the Spirit of God.

3. Put the needs of others first.

This does NOT mean your needs aren’t important. It doesn’t mean you should absorb abusive behavior. Rather this means that we’re going to work against an animalistic survival instinct in which we satisfy our own needs at the expense of others. It means becoming attuned to what others truly need.

4. Be realistic about who you are.

Humility isn’t thinking less of yourself. It’s thinking of yourself less.

You are made in God’s image and you reflect his goodness to the rest of the world. Your worth is infinite and measureless and it is a false humility that denies that worth.

5. Be willing to serve.

Jesus best demonstrated servanthood when the apostles were arguing over who was the greatest among them. He proved servanthood was God’s intended path to greatness.

6. Be patient with God’s justice.

I think it’s interesting to note that Jesus, who is co-equal with God was willing to wait on His inheritance of authority. He was willing to walk through the pain and suffering of Roman crucifixion knowing that God would ultimately make sure justice was satisfied.

7. Think more highly of Jesus.

Eventually, every knee will bow. Eventually, every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord! I’m convinced that in one way or another every living soul will come to see the goodness of God.

But what joy awaits those who choose to elevate Jesus in their minds today without waiting until tomorrow.

I can personally attest to the fact that the very worst parts of who I am have always shown up in the moments when I’ve decided I’m good enough to be free of God’s influence. When I become Lord of my own life, things begin to fall apart.

But when I trust and elevate Jesus with my mind and heart, I can then see the parts of myself that can be beautifully reshaped into his likeness so that I can become the very best version of myself possible.

The way of Jesus is the way of radical love, and this selfless kind of love can absolutely change the world if we as Jesus’ followers are simply willing to live it out.

About the Cover Art: Photo by Paul Zoetemeijer on Unsplash.

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