by Denise Cryer
Colossians 3: 12-17
Today we’re thinking about “the mind of Christ”- and what a mind it must have been! As I’ve thought about this, Its blown me away a little bit if I’m honest” – how can I have the mind of someone who’s so bound together with the Father and the HS ? Someone who’s so in tune with the world around Him; engaged in the culture around Him; passionate about the lives of those around Him? And yet – we’ve been given all we need to live in the realm of the supernatural. Having the mind of Christ is nothing to do with our intelligence! There were lots of clever people around in the early church, people who studied the scriptures and
knew them inside out! – and yet – these people were the Pharisees who Jesus scorned because they thought they knew it all! Knew better than Him – its not a measure of our intelligence because the mind of Christ is given, through the Holy Spirit to all of us as believers, but we do need to “put on” the mind of Christ – let go of our old self – this is true Kingdom thinking.
For Paul, it isn’t enough to believe the right things – right belief should always produce right thinking and right living. If we say we believe in Jesus; acknowledge that He died for our sins – but not let it go beyond that – what kind of faith do we actually have? What we “say” we believe about Jesus, should transform the way we live our lives and respond to each other, and the wider world. God’s continually moulding us, and shaping us to become like Jesus.
When we become a Christian, we take off our old life and put on a new one – that’s a good image isn’t it (actions) we take off the old and put on the new – we’re a new creation! – It wouldn’t be much good if we put nice new clothes on top of the ones that are worn out or no longer fit us – we must take off the old ones first! But sometimes its hard to let go of – an old jumper, for example, its been with us for many years; it makes us feel safe – we’re comfortable in it, but there comes a time when we have to let go.
Every one of Jesus’ disciples had to leave who and what they were, behind, to follow Him. They couldn’t carry on wearing their “old clothes” as it were. But these new clothes look different! WE look different! We might not feel as comfortable, we might be aware that others see us differently – the new “us”! The new “us” is good! The “new us” has many qualities of Jesus! If you’re a football fan, you’ll know how good it feels putting on your team’s latest shirt – it identifies you with your team. Putting on our new clothes identifies us with Team Jesus. But if we just put on the shirt and left it at that – what would that really say about us? if we didn’t get to know the team we’re supporting; if we didn’t engage with other supporters – what would that say about us? Putting on of the new, isn’t a legal requirement – its set in the context of our status as God’s people – a covenant people – a chosen people and our new “outfit should reflect the faith we say we have.
I hear some of you say, “well I put on my new clothes a long time ago” – so did I! we identify with Christ now don’t we? but the renewing of our mind is an ongoing process. Every day we need to study God’s word so we can think about what it says, what it teaches us – the more we read about Jesus, about how he dealt with the situations he met with; the way He dealt with people – those who believed in Him and those who didn’t; the more we’ll respond to life with the mind of Christ.
So – with our new clothes on, we look different but we know that things have to change, but we don’t always like change do we? we don’t often like challenge; don’t like to feel uncomfortable; we often struggle between our old life and our new life, but in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians he says, “you were taught…to be made new in the attitude of your minds, and so put on the new self, created by God” (Eph 4:23). A change in the attitude of our mind, has to come. The renewing of our minds takes us to new levels of understanding; – How we embrace one another – encourage one another, forgive one another, show grace to one another, how we build up the body of Christ. How we see the world around us – how we engage with it, how we interact with it.
About 22 years ago I suffered with panic attacks and I was a mess – couldn’t eat, drink, get dressed – couldn’t function. God completely healed me in an instant, here in St L’s after about 3 months but reflecting on that 3 months now, I realize it taught me a lot about how my mind worked, then, and now, and I’m reminded what Paul says earlier in this chapter. “…set your minds on things above, not on earthly things…”
In that 3 months it took everything within me to even ask for prayer – that was the limit of my engagement with God! Its not often easy to set our mind on anything other than earthly things is it? because of all the stuff that’s distracting us, scaring us, challenging us. The stuff that happens in our daily life often just consumes us doesn’t it?
As I’ve been contemplating this “mind of Christ”, I think, for me, the most challenging times have been when I’ve been in conversation with someone else, or particularly when I’m with a group of other people. And the challenge has been not to get caught up in “gossip”; – I think its easy to go along with what’s been said about someone, or a situation – to be critical or derogatory – I think its SO easy to get drawn in then before long we find ourselves thinking “why on earth did I say that or agree with that?”. If only we could respond more quickly to people and situations, with the mind of Christ!
I remember many years ago when I was in my 20’s it was really popular to wear a bracelet with the letters WWJD on – “What Would Jesus Do”. A simple thing you might think but over the years I’ve found myself asking that question in many situations I’ve found myself in – when I’ve had a disagreement with a brother or sister; when I’ve not liked something that’s happening in church; when I’ve not known how to handle a difficult situation; when I’ve come across a homeless man in the street; when I’ve heard someone speaking badly about God – just stop for a moment and ask ourselves “What Would Jesus Do?” I think it’s a good place for us to start.
It seems, from the Bible, that no-one can walk with kingdom thinking, the mind of Christ, without leaving everything behind – the way we thought; the way we acted; the way we lived. Anything we try and hang on to – limits us because it controls us. If we cant leave the old behind and fully embrace the new – we’ll not face life with the mind of Christ. If, today, you need healing of the past; if there’s something you cant leave behind – please find someone you can talk to and allow them to pray with you.
I’d really like to encourage you to trust Jesus with those difficult things – He’s got your back! He’s experienced the challenge of trusting His Father in the difficult days ahead. God says His ways were higher than ours – but He didn’t say they were impossible to understand. With our human mind yes, but with the mind of Christ, absolutely possible! Of course we won’t understand everything – but we’ll have the ability to discern things as Jesus did; to think as Jesus did in our relationships, in our roles and in our responsibilities; to, like Jesus, make every aspect of our lives bring glory to God. We should be living in the realm of the supernatural – Jesus did! His teaching; His miracles; just everything about Him oozed the HS at work in Him and through Him! And He said, “…you will be able to do all I have done, and more!” There’s anointing and blessing waiting for us if we step into the water and, as we go deeper, Trust Him; trust his guidance; trust His shepherding; trust His love for us.
I’ve noticed that the common theme running through each sermon in this current series is love. Today’s passage tells us that when we’ve put on our new clothes and we’re showing compassion; kindness; humility; gentleness and patience – if we’re bearing with one another and forgiving one another, as Christ’s forgiven us (V14) “over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity”. Tara spoke last week about this unity we have in Christ and she said, “love is the basic requirement of all things Christ-like” – I love that quote! Love is the basic requirement! What does “our” love look like? Does it reflect our unity? Does it reflect a Christ-like mind as we deal with each other, and with those around us? do we express compassion; kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Do we bear with one another? Do we forgive one another if we have grievances? As we come towards the end of this sermon I’d like to pray with a prayer based on today’s reading:-
“ Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, let us clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Let us bear with each other and forgive one another. if any of us have a grievance against someone, Forgive as the Lord forgave us. 14 And over all these virtues, let us put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts, since as members of one body we were called to peace. Let us be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among us richly as we teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in our hearts. 17 And whatever we do, whether in word or deed, let’s do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Amen.
And a final question: as we move through Autumn and winter quickly approaches, “Which jumper are we going to wear? The old one – or a new one?” The choice really is ours. Of course I’m not talking about a physical jumper but a spiritual one.