Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus….
You may remember the wristbands that became so popular a few years back; they were inscribed with WWJD – What would Jesus do? They were particularly popular among more conservative Christians and so perhaps naturally, if also somewhat regrettably, more liberal, mainline traditions tended to be critical of them. Too simplistic, some of us said, as if Jesus addressed directly questions about the environment or nuclear weapons or any of the other host of modern and postmodern questions we have to deal with.
I appreciate that critique – the temptation to long for simplistic answers to complex questions is always before us. Mindful of this possibility, however, I still have to say that Paul seems to urge something similar to those wristbands in his correspondence with the Philippians: “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus.”
Let the same mind be in you that in was in Christ Jesus. Similar to the WWJD, but with one difference. His focus isn’t quite yet on activity, on “doing” something. Neither, however, is it merely about “thinking.” Rather, the Greek word Paul employs at this point is the same as he used in v. 2 and can also be translated as a kind of practical wisdom, or as being in agreement, or as regarding one’s opinions and those of others judiciously.
I think, then, that what Paul urges for the Philippians is a certain kind of stance or attitude or even a way of being in the world that should be modeled on what we see in Jesus. This is a place perhaps in between the “critical theology” that liberals prefer or “pious action” that conservatives tend toward. Rather, it is taking one’s whole direction in thought, word, and deed from Jesus. Truth be told, we don’t always know “what Jesus would do” in particular settings or situations, but if we can learn to model our way of being on Jesus, odds are the right course of action may suggest itself.
The question, of course, is what Jesus’ “way of being in the world” is? And that’s just what Paul will turn to next.
Prayer: Dear God, nurture in us the wisdom of Christ, that we might think and act in ways that accord with the love you reveal in his life, death, and resurrection. In Jesus’ name, Amen.