Saturday Say What?! #9

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: – Philippians 2: 5

We need to be of the same mind as Christ. As He is so are we to be on this Earth. He is healthy, prosperous, peaceful, generous and a blessing to everyone He meets. Jesus received from the Father everything He needed to accomplish His mission, and the overflow spilled over onto the people around Him.

We need to be so full of Jesus by keeping our eyes on Him and what He did for us on the cross. When we receive all He has provided for us, the overflow will spill onto those around us too.”

***

How’s the above for a swell hermeneutic?  Gad.

This is a choice example of the kind of stuff that makes for a perfect cheese blintz: heavy on the cream cheese, light on substance.  It’s also a perfect illustration of two “tried and true” addages I learned from my Theology 101 prof: “When the plain sense makes good sense, seek no other sense”, and “a text taken out of context is a pretext.”  This example, taken from a devotional ezine women, violates both.

Why?  For several reasons, but chiefly, the author is quite obviously coming from a particular theological worldview popularly dubbed “name it, claim it” or “word of faith,” the “prosperity Gospel,” etc.  Whatever the moniker, this unfortunate paradigm typically practices ripping verses out of context to “support” a viewpoint or a particular practice or prejudice, rather than allowing the Scripture to speak for itself.  This practice isn’t merely exceedingly poor scholarship, it also does great violence to the text and misses the point entirely.  This particular author makes the use of partial paragraphs, verse fragments and texts isolated from their Biblical context into a full-time career.  The CONTEXT for the verse noted begins in Philippians 2:1:

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 lvoe, being one in spirit and prupose.  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 other.

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: (notice the colon here which sets up a description of His attitude in the following verses):

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likenss.  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death on a cross!”  (NIV), emphasis added.)

You can read the rest of the chapter yourself.  Better yet, read the whole epistle. 

Here’s the point: When the author of the above article says we “need to be of the same mind of Christ,” she erroneously defines that “mind” as “healthy, prosperous, peaceful, generous and a blessing to everyone He meets. ” 

Excuse me?  Did she miss the part on “made himself nothing,”, “taking the very nature of a servant,” “humbled himself,” “Became obedient to death”?

Contrary to what’s asserted, being “like-minded” or “of the same mind” as Christ has nothing to do with being “healthy, prosperous, peaceful, generous …”  The context has to do with Paul’s teaching that personal union with Christ is the basic reality of salvation.  To be in Christ is to be saved.  It’s to be in intimate relationship with Christ the Savior.  From this relationship flow all the particular benefits and fruits of salvation, like encouragement, comfort, fellowship, tenderness and compassion.  “Like-mindedness” emphasizes the unity that should exist among Christian.s  Not uniformity in thought but the common disposition to work together and serve one another – the “attitude” of Christ. (v. 5, 4:2, Rom. 12:16, 15:5, 2Cor. 13:11). 

Trying to argue that the mind of Christ is “healthy, prosperous, peaceful, generous…” from this text is just plain silly.  It’s a pretext.  In its proper conext, Philippians 2:5 quite clearly teaches that in spite of all that is unique and radically different about the person and work of Christ, Christians are to have his attitude of self-sacrificing humility and love for others.  The true mind of Christ is about unity, obedience, humility and servanthood, not health, wealth, or prosperity.  How sad that some would exchange the eternal riches of a heavenly perspective for the temporal comforts of the here and now.

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