Think like Jesus!

So much of what is happening in these United States, at least as reported, quickly escalates our fears. The chaos of life unsettles us all in different ways.  In the words of Yoda (actually George Lucas) “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”  Without diminishing the real anguish that has moved millions into the streets, I am suggesting that now that we have raised consciousness, it time to sit down at the table. It is time to listen to the ‘other side.’  The intensity of the rhetoric has made otherwise reasonable people incapable of hearing with understanding. As we shout at each other we feed rage – an emotion that makes us blind and deaf.

Those of us who are in Christ need to take the lead towards real dialogue, with a genuine desire for needed change, and deep compassion for those with whom we have little shared life experience. These are acts of faith and obedience.  Whether you are old or young, rich or poor, black or white – if you are a Christian, admit that hating the ‘other side’ is an unjustifiable sin. Oh yes, despise the sin! The cruel evil of unrestrained power is intolerable. The impulse to lump people into pre-judged groups with hateful labels is a sin! Hate that, but do not hate people.

The Lords speaks to us through His Word. “If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:1-4, NIV)

The Spirit starts by reminding us about God’s gift to us. We were ignoring God, doing our own thing, living without concern for His purposes.  How did He approach us?  Did He shout at us, condemn us, call us stupid, or try to use His infinite power to crush us?  Not at all. Christ Jesus loved us by setting aside His divine prerogatives, subjecting Himself to the weakness of His own creation. He offers grace to the worst, not when we were trying to be good but  ‘while we were still sinners,’ resisting Him, rejecting Him.  When we have known His love, been secured in His mercy, and made alive to God, the Spirit says that we are to be ‘like-minded.’  Think like Jesus! Have you been thinking like Jesus? (re-read that question)  In the same way that He was pro-active to save us, we are to move toward those with whom we live.

Jesus put our need above His comfort. Let this sink in.  “Though he was God, he did not demand and cling to his rights as God. He made himself nothing.”  (Philippians 2:6 NLT) God asks us to set aside defensiveness and self-protection. Instead of being so quick to say, “I’m right!”- Christians are to work at understanding that the other guy has something important to say to us. The Spirit says, “Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.” (Philippians 2:4, The Message)  That directive is not just about ‘nice people,’ or those who reciprocate with reasonable words. 

Bold, transformative, amazing love becomes possible when our fears are erased with an unshakeable love of Jesus!  “Who or what can separate us from His love?” Nothing! He asks a simple question of us “If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that?”  He reminds us that “Even sinners love those who love them! … Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.” (Luke 6:32-36, NLT)  His words are for us all.

It is a struggle not to retreat into the safety of our preconceptions. We may think we are doing good if we choose to ignore the voices that disturb the status quo. God asks that we move toward those with whom we differ. Put away the idea, “I know better.”  Instead, we put the concerns front and center of our minds as we choose to think like Jesus!  Think about the image of the person with whom you have the greatest difference.

Now … pray for grace to hear him. Pray until you can get past the “Well, Lord, I guess You love him so I’ll try to be nice”  to a place where you can care about his interests, seek the best for him.  By the way, if you do not know what that it, God does, so agree with Him.

The discovery of truth, the dawning of acceptance, comes slowly but only when we are ready to listen. Accepting another is not the same as agreeing that everything he says is true. Unity needs to be more than a slogan. So on this Friday, take the lead to listen, to create opportunities for real conversations by lowering the temperature of the rhetoric.

Here is a word from the Word says “You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.” (Matthew 5:9, The Message)  God helping us – we can do it for the glory of Christ Jesus.


Lord I Need You
(Pray with Chris Tomlin as he sings of our heart’s need)

Lord I come I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
And without You I fall apart
You’re the one that guides my heart

Lord I need You oh I need You
Ev’ry hour I need You
My one defense my righteousness
Oh God how I need You

Where sin runs deep Your grace is more
Where grace is found is where You are
And where You are Lord I am free
Holiness is Christ in me

Where You are Lord I am free
Holiness is Christ in me

So teach my song to rise to You
When temptation comes my way
And when I cannot stand I’ll fall on You
Jesus You’re my hope and stay
And when I cannot stand I’ll fall on You
Jesus You’re my hope and stay

Lord I need You oh I need You
Ev’ry hour I need You
My one defense my righteousness
Oh God how I need You

My one defense my righteousness
Oh God how I need You

Christy Nockels | Daniel Carson | Jesse Reeves | Kristian Stanfill | Matt Maher

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