Think Like Jesus Thinks

“The joy of the Lord is your strength.” You might be surprised at the location of these very words in the Scriptures and at the situation in which they were spoken.

The phrase is found in Nehemiah 8. It is expressed as an exhortation and command to a saddened group of worshippers. These people had just listened to the reading of the books of Moses by Ezra the scribe. Struck by fresh awareness of the sins of their ancestors who forsook the Law of God, the people wept grievously.

The flood of emotional reaction was out of proportion when compared to the work accomplished by those whose minds were devoted to the restoration of Jerusalem. This was to be a day holy to the Lord God, not one slogged with overwrought mourning.

The leaders preached calm. In fact, the order was for the people to get busy in feasting and generosity: “Eat the fat and drink the sweet and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready. … And all the people went their way to eat and drink and to send portions and to make great rejoicing, because they had understood the words that were declared to them” (Nehemiah 8:10-12).

Sorrow had to be turned to celebration. To do this, the people had to change their minds; they needed to think God thoughts. The focus had to turn to His goodness and aware from severity.

Fullness of joy is possible for us because it was the mind of God to make it possible. His goodness of grace answered the wrath of severity in the Person of Jesus.

Consolation, Comfort, Fellowship

Three words in Philippians 2:1 set up the Apostle Paul’s communication about this principle of joy as a mindset. “Consolation,” “comfort,” and “fellowship” are the words that we see in this verse.

“Consolation” in the Greek text is paraklesis, a word that means “coming close” or “drawing near.” This is also the source word for Paraclete, or Comforter, one of the descriptive terms used in reference to the Holy Spirit as One who stands by our side to help.

Here, we must note the limitations of human language to define eternal things. What has been given to us by the grace of God in Christ goes far deeper.

“Consolation” brings us close to the heart of why Jesus Christ came to earth. He, the eternal Word, became the living Word, the Word made flesh. This is the “consolation” we have in Him. He, however, did more than just come alongside of us. In His incarnation, in His allowing Himself to live as a vessel formed of dust, He was and is one of us and one with us. He, as Hebrews 4:15 tells us, experienced every bit of what it means to be human all the way to the point of tasting the reality of death on the Cross.

Oneness in Christ starts with each of us seeing ourselves as who we really are – one with Him, hid with Christ in God. Every one of us is made to be a temple of the Holy Spirit. I am in Him, and He is in me, and so we are in Him and He is in us.

Oneness in Christ starts with each of us seeing ourselves as who we really are – one with Him, hid with Christ in God. Every one of us is made to be a temple of the Holy Spirit. Click To Tweet

It is our understanding of this consolation in Christ that leads us to “love our neighbors as we love our self,” as Jesus instructed in Mark 12:31 quoting Leviticus 19:17. This is what “comfort” is referring to in Philippians 2:1. “Comfort” points to our shared consolation. We see ourselves as loved by God and so we love Him, and therefore we express His love for us toward others in our churches and outside of them.

Knowing who we are in Jesus, we should purposefully gather in “fellowship” – koinonia in the Greek, a word that comes from the root used to describe intimacy in marriage, relational and physical. This is all the work of the Holy Spirit of God.

The Spirit moves us in love from our “bowels,” as the King James Version reads. There’s depth to what goes on in a healthy community of believers, just as there’s a depth to the love that is active in a Spirit-directed home. This love of God results in “mercies” – moments of service and compassion and help in action. Husband and wives vow to have and to hold one another, and so it is to be among those who follow Jesus and represent Him in this realm.

Psalm 133 gives us a good word picture of koinonia. The passage starts like this:  “Behold, how good and pleasant it is for the brethren to dwell together in unity” (Psalm 133:1). The essence of this communion is then described as being like oil and dew. There is an anointing full of fragrance and freshness that falls when His people live full of grace and truth. It is the Lord who commands such blessings.

The Mind of Christ

Paul celebrated this manner of community life as he understood it to exist among the Philippians. Still, he understood the human element common to every faith group he was connected with. We can read in his Corinthian letters most graphically of the troubles, misunderstandings, and failures that came to the believers in that city.

Here, to the Philippians, Paul explains the way to real fellowship and real oneness in the Lord.  The secret, he wrote, is simply this:  Think like Jesus thought.

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5).

The mystery of redemption stands in that God employed evil to defeat itself. Human religion, government, and philosophy — all under the rule of the prince and power of this world — came together to oppose Jesus and put Him out of the way.

For His part, Christ did nothing in “strife and vainglory” (Philippians 2:3). The Son did not draw up battle lines and attempt to outmuscle and out-glorify Satan and his minions.

For His part, Christ did nothing in “strife and vainglory” (Philippians 2:3). The Son did not draw up battle lines and attempt to outmuscle and out-glorify Satan and his minions. Click To Tweet

Christ operated as a tender shoot that sprung from dry ground. He lived by every Word of God in meekness under the leading of the Spirit.

Rather than push and shove, Jesus adopted lowliness as His posture. His power and position were secure, this He knew. His identity as the Son was unquestionable. His omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence were and always are irreducible.  He could release these things to the purpose of Heaven in His mission as the Son of Man.

He surrendered to the pattern of life as a human being, born an infant to Mary, the virgin of Nazareth betrothed to Joseph. The form of Jesus as God remained even as He accepted the form of “a servant … made in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:7).

Through His thorough and complete obedience even to the death on the Cross, Jesus secured our joy and as a result, His joy was made complete. He won exaltation and the Name above every name with His surrender in weakness, “so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10-11).

This very mind of Christ is most available to us. It is a holy mind that dismisses disputing and murmuring.

Let us seek Him and seek to be quickened by the Spirit as we think with His mind.

Do you find this idea beyond you? Do you feel deficient and unworthy? There’s answer for this, too.

Take those feelings of fear and trembling to Him as salvation is worked out in you. He shall supply the power needed to choose His thoughts:   “for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13).

All that God does in and through us is His work. Even the very thought of living for Christ comes from Him. We are the sons and daughters, always members of His royal, holy family. We stand in the midst of crookedness and perversity. We shine as lights in the world.

Let us hold forth His Word of life to all. Let us rejoice and be glad.

May we think joy and be strong in the Lord.

 

 

Steve Andrulonis
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