Philippians 2:5-11—The Attitude of Jesus

Philippians 2:5–11 (NIV84)

5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross! 9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

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

Talk about a bold directive. Have the same mind or, as the Greek more literally reads, attitude as Christ Jesus. Setting aside the question “is this even possible?” I linger instead on the thought “what would this look like?” I mean, what would it look like to make my mission the mission of another? What would it look like to make my actions always and ever in service to others? What would it look like to give complete and expect nothing in return?

Luckily, however, Paul gives us a picture. And so, in what many consider to be the first Christian creed and an early hymn, we discover how he understood the attitude of Jesus and what our lives ought to look like.

Jesus was God, but he didn’t considering his status of great importance. Instead he assumed the status of a slave—of a, get this, human. And that probably deserves its own aside: I mean, what’s Paul suggesting when he says that being human means being a slave or a servant? But we’re concerned with Jesus attitude, and his attitude is one in which he doesn’t care about his status. It just doesn’t enter into the equation. And, here, Paul is suggesting that that should be our disposition.

And so, as a slave, as a servant, as a human, Jesus empties himself. He gives all he has, and he does it until he dies in the most horrific fashion. And, if you’re anything like me, that might just make you more than a little hesitant. Because while I can an empty myself into my friends and family, while I can empty myself into my career and calling, I’ve never done it to this degree before. And before I can ask the question, “Would I want to?” I realize that I have to ask the much bigger question, “Is it even possible?”

Yet, for Jesus, all things are possible. And so, that’s why he’s able to do it. And when he did, God highly exalted him. And that’s why his name is special, that’s why his knees bend and his head bows, and that’s why tongues confess that Jesus is Lord. Jesus is master. And when you realize that Paul writes this in a world where there was only one Lord, and his name was Caesar, it makes you linger. Jesus is President. Jesus is CEO. Jesus is guru. Jesus is master.

And so, while I began wondering, “What does it mean to have the attitude of Christ,” I close giving thanks to Him, because while I’m not sure that I can have this attitude, while I’m not sure that I can solve all my problems, I am confident that Christ can and will and has the power to make this happen.

So, thanks be to him. In Jesus name. Amen.