"The Mind of Christ (Mind Full n’ Blessed)"/ Philippians 2.1-18; Matthew 21:21-33; Psalm 25; Ezekiel 18:1-4 / Pr. Lucas A. Albrecht/ Sunday September 27th 2020 / Season Of Pentecost / Mount Olive Lutheran Church
Text: Philippians 2.1-18; Matthew 21:21-33; Psalm 25; Ezekiel 18:1-4
Theme: The Mind of Christ (Mind Full n’ Blessed)
Intr – The late famous scientist Stephen Hawking released in 2010 his book called “The Grand Design”. In this writing he declared God not necessary in the origin of the Universe. According to the British scientist spontaneous creation explains why there is something in the place of nothing. Laws such as gravity force help to make it clearer. Hawking said, “You can call it God, but it wouldn't be a personal God that you could meet and ask questions.”
From there we could conclude that on Hawking’s mind, on his way of thinking, there would be no Creator.
First of all, it is always good to remember that this is an unsubstantiated hypothesis. It’s different from saying “grass is green” or “whales are mammals”. Even though I’m miles away from his knowledge, it seems that it takes a good deal of faith to believe that gravity and other laws can explain the spontaneous generation from nothing to everything. But that’s science: Research, explanation, change. Research again, explanation again - more change. Hawking himself was a proof of how today’s scientific discover becomes tomorrow’s old news. Once in 1988 he said, “if man discovered a complete theory of the creation of the universe then we should know the mind of God”. During the ‘80s Hawking acknowledged God was part of the plan. 22 years later, he discarded the Creator.
The mind of God, said Hawking in 1988. The epistle today talks about that. “Having the mind of Christ.” Christ is God - The mind of God. Another thing thins reminds me of is that mind has become a buzzword in recent years with the concept of Mindfulness. What is that, and is it something we connect with a Christian approach to our mind our way of thinking and living?
In general lines “Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention to the present. This state is described as observing one’s thoughts and feelings without judging them as good or bad.” “When you're being mindful, the key is not to label or judge what's happening. Your feelings aren't good or bad. They just are.” “Mindfulness can therefore be a tool to avoid self-criticism and judgment while identifying and managing difficult emotions.”
As we grow familiar with the Scriptures we notice there are significant points of dissonance when we think about having our mind in the right place. For example, that it is impossible to ditch a moral compass, to meditate “without judging your thoughts and feelings as good and bad”. But there’s an underlying reason for why this is not we’re thinking of here. “Mindfulness derives from sati, a significant element of Buddhist traditions, and based on Zen, Vipassanā, and Tibetan meditation techniques. Well, “Clinical psychology and psychiatry since the 1970s have developed a number of therapeutic applications based on mindfulness for helping people experiencing a variety of psychological conditions,” and of course that may be helpful for people in therapeutic settings in some way. We see however that a Buddhist approach to mind, to a spiritual and bodily life can hardly be wedded to the Christian teaching about our minds as they are set in Christ.
“Have this mind”, says Paul. Everyone has a type of mind, a way of thinking. For example:
_Some authorities of the time had in mind that arresting Paul for preaching the Gospel was a good idea. That’s where Paul is writing this letter from.
_In the Gospel we see that some Pharisees and religious leaders had in mind that it was a good idea to approach Jesus with a question him. They thought they could challenge the mind of Christ and His exousia, authority.
_From the OT reading, we learn that many among the people of Israel had in mind that sin could pass down generations and you could be punished by the sin of your ancestors. Ezekiel brings the mind of the Lord on that topic. Nobody carries guilt for sins of predecessors, we are held accountable before God on a personal basis.
_In the minds of many, if not almost all these days, there are buzzwords and ideological frameworks running wild to try to understand the world and that may frame one’s perception and action upon it. Some examples: polarization; politics; climate change; discriminations; systemic; fluidity; everything is relative, and many others.
The fact is that our way of thinking matters, for it may sometimes bring us serious problems, as well as "not thinking" too, when we act by mere impulse or following the thoughts of others and not the mind of Christ. What's your way of thinking?
The epistle speaks to us in terms of “Jesus’ mind, way of thinking" as the mind we have. How does that work? That can involve a multitude of things, starting with the fact that He was perfect, and we aren’t, so it would be impossible his exact perfect mind. So why is Paul then talking like this? Let me highlight two aspects of it:
_Humbleness - Jesus was nothing less than God Himself. But here He was, subjecting himself to being humiliated, tortured, and crucified. He had all the best and was going through all the worst. The mind of Christ indicates humbleness.
When we think about humility it’s also important to be reminded of what it is not:
It is not Self-depreciation - "I’m not good enough"; “I'm not good for much"; "Nobody likes me"; “I’m the worst of the worst
It is not saying things waiting for an expected answer: "Do you need some help?" (do we feel offended if they decline?) "You look so handsome today! " (Aren’t you going to say that back to me?) “I can’t do anything right” (expecting a compliment);
It is not boasting about humility. “I’m a very humble person”; "I go to church every Sunday"; "I always respect others "; "I put others first". It is attributed to Margaret Thatcher to have said: "Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren't." I would adapt the phrase to: 'If you have to tell people you're humble, you probably aren’t”.
When it comes to humbleness, Paul leads the way to show us the thinking of Christ when we are aligned with God’s Word. The main point is that humbleness stems from recognizing we are totally dependent on the Father, that His thoughts are greater than our thoughts, and that it is Christ’s mind that show us the path of faith and life. Then, humility happens in life as our faith is in action. And Paul lists situations in which that happens: “complete my joy by being 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 count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
_Obedience – Another aspect of the mind of Christ we see in Philippians 2 is Obedience. Christ was obedient to the point of death, even though He was God. Jesus obeyed the Father to break the power of death and to show the world that God, in Christ, reconciles the world with Himself. Now, the more we know Christ, the more we want to obey Him and have His mind in all we think and do.
Faith in Jesus and action, obedience, go together. Where there is faith, obedience to Him should follow. By the fruits of faith, obedience, we know that faith is not dead, but alive in the heart. Of course, we are talking about true obedience, for it is possible sometimes for one to pretend it.
Now listen to this phrase: "Obeying God is the perfect freedom". How does that sound to you? I think it just seems to not sound right at first hearing, to have Freedom and Obedience in the same sentence. That is because we tend to think we're free when we can do what we want, enjoy life the way we want, and obedience sounds like a restriction to our soaring high in our dreams and desires.
Illustration: Think about an airplane. An aircraft can fly world ‘round, it can go anywhere. But in order to do it, it needs to strictly follow the laws of physics that allow it to take off and fly. When an airplane is set to do so, you can travel the world away. But if it fails to obey them, it will certainly either be grounded forever, or face severe complications mid-air.
Our true Christian freedom is in the fact that we can voluntarily obey and follow our Master. So obeying God is the perfect freedom. In fact, Faith in action, "Obedience is the best commentary in the Bible," as Theodore Monod commented. The first best way to first show our neighbours the importance of the Bible is will be living it among them. As we live by God’s Word, we are free to soar high in love and action.
This is the mind of Christ. And it is ours by faith. As we are redeemed by His blood and raised as children of the Father we learn to focus our mind in the things that are above and also to fill it up with what is good. That implies no mindfulness, but a Mind Full n’ Blessed. We examine our minds and thoughts under the light of God’s Law and Gospel we will certainly realize what is good and what is not. Where we’ve done wrong and where we followed God’s commandments. We will understand the unfathomable Grace of the Lord who forgives our sin and also pours into our minds and hearts the blessings of His Word.
As Christians we have Life in Christ with a Mind Full n’ Blessed. We observe our thoughts and feelings in the Light of the Word to learn what’s good and what’s not. It is a skill that the Holy Spirit develops through faith, leading to practicing this faith in humbleness, obedience and love. To live with a Mind Full n’ Blessed is to live in the moment guided by the Holy Spirit and be awakened by Christ at every moment, remembering the past – the work of love on the Cross, and anticipating the future, when we will confess Jesus as the Christ and live with Him forever. A Mind Full n’ Blessed by Him leads us to practice self-criticism and judgment when it comes to our sin, bringing our repentant hearts to Christ, who forgives us and takes care of our difficult emotions and thoughts.
Humbleness and obedience. These two fruits of the Holy Spirit broached by Paul in the epistle point to mind of Christ. As Paul shows the fruits of a mind set in Christ. Listen again: “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. 14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.”
In the Gospel, we see also minds in focus. We the way two sons changed their minds following their father’s request. On set his mind to obey, but then he didn’t. The other one didn’t have his mind set to obey at the beginning but the he changes his mind and go to the word. We can be the third son that may be hidden in the parable. We say yes to the call of God to work and serve, and we actually go out and serve him in humbleness and obedience.
And from Psalm 25 we receive words of encouragement and comfort: “Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. 5 Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long. Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in the way. 9 He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way. 10 All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.”
Cc – Back to the opening illustration - Hawking and the mind of God -, according to his mind and his unsubstantiated hypothesis God is not part of the design. That’s ok though. The fact is that in the context of a faithless mind, pure reason, it does make sense, for we can never bring God to the scene with the efforts of our reason. This comes only through faith, which is a gift that allows us to be sure of things we cannot see. When it goes through the mind that is in Christ though then God comes to scene as the Creator, Redeemer and Keeper of all the laws He established. He may, if needed, even be the Changer of it. This is not a theory, but the proclamation of the Savior who came to save us out of nothing to a life full of everything we need. A Mind full n’ blessed. The Mind of Christ.
Then we learn that according to God in his work of Love substantiated in Jesus, The Mind of Christ in his Grand Design includes all; Hawking, you, me. Every one.
 https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/mindfulness “To live mindfully is to live in the moment and reawaken oneself to the present, rather than dwelling on the past or anticipating the future”
 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mindfulness. “It is “a skill one develops through meditation or other training.” “ (…) “Though definitions and techniques of mindfulness are wide-ranging, Buddhist traditions explain what constitutes mindfulness such as how past, present and future moments arise and cease as momentary sense impressions and mental phenomena”.
The Apostle Paul asking us to “have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus”. Our mind matters, and our thoughts are not harmless or void of moral value. If you try to make your concentration in the present about not uttering moral judgments it is because you know previously about good and bad, and why you should strive for one while avoiding the other.
 We may choose the attitudes we like, but God’s Word shows us the consequences. The more our minds are set to the word of God, we have good actions, fruits of faith, with good consequences.
 James 2
 Colossians 3
 Ephesians 5.14
 Small Catechism, Apostle’s Creed, 3rd article. Book of Concord, p.330
 Hebrews 11