Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded,having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:1-11)
When I was in high school I started getting serious about my faith. Philippians was the first place I encountered a Jesus who really challenged me to change my life. Until then, Jesus was all for me; he loved me, he valued me, he had a plan for me, and all of that felt good, and it was all true. In Philippians another chapter of God’s truth emerged, Jesus wanted me to be like him, to sacrifice like him, to act like him, to have values like him. Suddenly, this Christianity was going to be hard work.
At Creekside we want to be a people who live the extraordinary way of Jesus by becoming people who care about what Jesus cares about. That process of becoming is hard work. It’s the day in day out work of following a God who challenges us to live a better life than the one we imagined for ourselves. It’s not because God is mean, or vindictive, or demanding, it’s because God’s imagination is better than ours, he has imagined a better life for us than we have for ourselves. And God’s not afraid of a challenge, up to and including challenging all of our assumptions about who we are, and what makes us tick as people.
Your money, your politics, your vocation, your time, your talent, your energy, your family, your choices: all of these lay claim to your life. They subtly and not so subtly tell you who you are. When you meet someone for the first time, and they ask about your life, what do you tell them? Are those really the things that define you? If not, what does define you? What makes you, you?
Jesus went to the cross, so that you and I could take part in this wonderful vision of life that Jesus himself called the “Kingdom of God.”
The challenge of Jesus, the day in day out work of following him, is that he wants (and deserves) all the credit. He made you, he wants to be the very first, most important, and ultimately primary definer of your life, other things may stake a claim on who you are, but Jesus has the only legitimate claim. He wants you, all of you. He wants your check list to go like this:
Political party? = King and a Kingdom. Money? = For God’s Kingdom Vocation? = using Gods gifts, for God’s Kingdom. Time? = yup for the Kingdom. Family? = in service to God’s Kingdom Etc. etc. etc. etc. = all for God and his Kingdom.
Following Jesus won’t be easy; having the mindset of Jesus, caring about what Jesus cares about won’t happen overnight. It will be work. But it will be GOOD work. Work worth doing, work that reminds you that work isn’t for the sake of some temporary things like money, but for something bigger, something eternal, work that builds humanity deep in your bones, work that changes you from the inside out. Jesus invitation, from the very beginning of his ministry right until his last days on earth was a full blown in your face challenge, it reads in our Bible like this: “come and follow me.”
As for me and my house: challenge accepted.