Journeying out…pushing through – Wednesday 13th January 2021

Growing into the mind of Christ

1 Corinthians 2 (New Revised Standard Version)

When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come proclaiming the mystery of God to you in lofty words or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I came to you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. My speech and my proclamation were not with plausible words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God.

Yet among the mature we do speak wisdom, though it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to perish. But we speak God’s wisdom, secret and hidden, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written,

‘What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
   nor the human heart conceived,
what God has prepared for those who love him’—

these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For what human being knows what is truly human except the human spirit that is within? So also no one comprehends what is truly God’s except the Spirit of God.

Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the gifts bestowed on us by God. And we speak of these things in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual things to those who are spiritual.

Those who are unspiritual do not receive the gifts of God’s Spirit, for they are foolishness to them, and they are unable to understand them because they are discerned spiritually. Those who are spiritual discern all things, and they are themselves subject to no one else’s scrutiny.

‘For who has known the mind of the Lord
   so as to instruct him?’

But we have the mind of Christ.

Reflection

The sub-title of today’s reflection is “Growing into the mind of Christ” but what does this mean, what does it mean to be spiritual?

Who do we follow, who do we try to imitate, who do we model our lives on?

That handsome rock star, that pinup movie star, the bad boy in East Enders or Corrie, the hunk who scored the winning goal that earned your team the cup.

What draws us to these celebrities, is it their good looks, their skill with a ball, their persuasive charm, their mesmerising rhetoric.

How often do our worldly super-heroes fall off the pedestal we place them on, their flaws and failings exposed and yet we still admire them. We queue for hours in the rain to get tickets to watch them perform, we vote for them, we protest and attack their critics, despite their weaknesses, their failures, their doubtful morals and questionable behaviour.

We are not unlike the people of Corinth. Paul was not a man of fine speech or movie-star looks. He didn’t make great speeches to win the votes of the crowd, who admired fine speech and debate regardless of content. Paul demonstrated the wisdom of God through the death on a cross of Jesus Christ. A criminal’s death. To many this was nonsense. What is more he claimed to know the mind of Christ and that we too, Christians, followers of Jesus Christ, can also grow into the mind of Christ.

Which would we chose to follow – the person of fine speech, good looks, skilled athlete or the person who would die for us?

Growing into the mind of Christ means growing into the mind of God. Jesus said,

I and the Father are one”, John 10.30

“As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” John 17.21b

Jesus knew the mind of God, therefore growing into the mind of Christ means knowing the mind of God.

His [God’s] delight is not in the strength of the horse,
nor his pleasure in the speed of a runner;
but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him,
in those who hope in his steadfast love.
Psalm 147.10-11

Jesus showed us the mind of God in his life, death and resurrection and if we truly want to know His mind then we will do likewise, even unto death. This means going against the trend, against the norms of the world. Seeing through the glitz and glamour of stardom and celebrity and pushing through the cultural barriers that separate us from those who are different to us.

Seeking the lost, befriending those who are different, isolated, on the margins of society. Going out of our comfort zone, welcoming the asylum seeker, the refugee, the BLMEQ neighbour, the person with mental illness or disability as if they were our own brother or sister or mother.

While he was still speaking to the crowds, his mother and his brothers were standing outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, ‘Look, your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.’ But to the one who had told him this, Jesus replied, ‘Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?’ And pointing to his disciples, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.’” Matthew 12.46-50

Growing into the mind of Jesus is not just about feeding the hungry, giving clothes to the naked, shelter to the refugee, having a socially distanced cup of tea with an isolated neighbour or attending Church on a Sunday. Knowing the mind of Jesus means knowing him as intimately as we know our own brother or sister, our own kin. So that we think like him, act like him, we know how to respond with his mind in any situation.

To know the mind of a person means really getting to know them, to truly understand their lives, their culture, for when we really know the mind of another person they are no longer a stranger but our sister or brother. Then there is nothing we would not do for them -even lay down our lives for them.

This can mean “Journeying out” of our culture, our comfort zone, “pushing through” the cultural barriers, the border walls that we erect around us to keep THEM out.

The challenge faced by Paul in Corinth, the challenge we face as Christians today, is that the message of the cross still seems foolishness to those who are led by the spirit of this world.

Growing into the mind of Christ challenges us to push through the barriers of our own culture, our prejudices, our fear, our suspicion, our stereotypical thinking, our history, anything that makes us see people as being different from us. Growing into the mind of Christ means ignoring the spirit or wisdom of the world and listening to the wisdom of God offered to us through His Holy Spirit.

Prayer

Creator God,
you made us all in your image:
may we discern you in all that we see,
and serve you in all that we do;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

Peter Walker
Reader
(North East Hub)