Identity Found in God
The King and the Kingdom
The King’s People
The Kingdom on Earth
Living with the Attitude of Christ
Living with the Attitude of Christ
I went on an MDS (Mennonite Disaster Service) trip to Pass Christian, Mississippi to do work rebuilding after hurricane Katrina. By the time we arrived at the MDS site, the orientation meeting was over. Normally I would be ok with that, but during this time, they decided teams without us, plunking our names on jobs without our input. I felt my heart begin to race and anxiety fill my insides as I examined the board. There must have been some mistake. Surely, they will soon realize the formation of the teams are inaccurate. My name was placed on a team that was working on a particular house putting in windows and building a deck. Jay’s name was part of a team who was going to be painting. Wait just a minute! I approached the coordinator, explaining my lack of carpentry skill, and, well, it didn’t matter as no changes were being made.
I am embarrassed to say that, the rest of that night I spent throwing one big fit. Poor Jay. He was the one who was stuck dealing with my big huge pity party. He was on a team with a friend I wanted to be on a team with, and I wasn’t even going to be able to enjoy serving on a team with him, my own husband for crying out loud. How do they really think it’s a good idea to put me in charge of building something. Put a paint brush in my hand, not a saw or anything dangerous! Seriously, this all must be a big mistake!
I settled down and Jay and I went our separate ways to designated sleeping areas. I found myself attempting to do some sort of prayer and devotions before my head hit the pillow. I’m not sure if you have every gotten a straight “what for” from God, some call it a 2 x 4, but that night He didn’t waste any time. He got a hold of me right away. I was compelled to turn straight to Philippians 2:5-11. You know, the one that starts with, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus”. Oh boy – here it comes!
I was in need of a big time attitude adjustment. I couldn’t get past that first verse. I felt like God was saying, “It’s not just about having a ‘good’ attitude, but drop one of the “o’s” from the word good, and I want you to have a GOD attitude!” It wasn’t just about having a positive perspective or outlook on a situation. It was more than choosing to look at a glass as half full or half empty. It was about stepping back out of a selfish mindset and considering what God is at work doing. It was entering this experience knowing that it’s not just going to be good or bad, it’s going to be about God. It was more than a wall to paint or a deck to build – it was about touching lives of those who had been homeless due to the hurricane. It was about bringing Jesus into the lives of the homeowners. The trip wasn’t about me – it was about doing God’s work with God’s people for God’s people. And, by the way, I was so proud of myself – I learned how to use some tools I never imagined I could use – like a “Poof Gun” (AKA Staple Gun) and a “Salsa” (AKA sawzall). My teammates soon learned and adopted my names I shared in my native carpenter’s language!
The passage in Philippians 2 goes on to describe Jesus’ attitude. If anyone had a right to have a “God complex”, it would be Jesus – after all, He is God. But listen to what the passage says, “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.”
He pretty much made the choice to leave His God nature at the door. He chose to be a servant. He made the decision to make Himself nothing. He set aside His power. As He walked this earth as God, yet human, He subjected Himself to human limitations. He put Himself in a position that would allow Him to experience what humans experience – to identify with mankind. The God attitude that Jesus reflected was that He willingly gave up all that He had in heaven to accomplish what His Father had in mind.
This reminds me of playing games with our young children. There were many moments when I was faced with a choice. I could make a certain move and win the game, or I could do something different to let them win. I had to pick. I clearly was capable enough to win the game. I had the power to make just one move and call me the champ. Or, I could set my skill, my “power” aside and give up my right to win. Jesus could choose. He was capable and had the power to take out those who spit on Him, mocked Him, flogged Him, and killed Him. He had the authority to get Himself out of all those painful situations, but He chose not to do so. He chose to give up His right and set His power aside…for us.
The attitude that we are challenged to put on, that of Christ Jesus, is the attitude of humility. An attitude of obedience to God. It’s an attitude that is sacrificial, one that thinks of others over ourselves. The King that is described in vs 10-11, who every knee will bow down to, who every tongue will confess as Lord, is Jesus, the very One who first humbled Himself, took a step back, considered what His Father was up to, and lived and walked accordingly.
What kind of attitude adjustment do you need? Ask God to show you what areas you need to turn into a “God Attitude”? How can you be humbled? Study the words and actions of Jesus – the pure model of servanthood.