On Changing Our Minds
Let each of you look not to your own interests,
but to the interests of others. Let the same mind
be in you that was in Christ Jesus,
who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death--
even death on a cross.
Jesus made himself vulnerable in human form and became obedient. He became an obedient human person, and because of his passion for God’s will for him, he collided with the will and purpose of the Roman Empire and with the Jews who colluded with the empire. He is not crucified because of some theory of atonement. He is crucified because the empire cannot tolerate such a transformative, subversive force set loose in the world. Jesus’ uncompromising commitment to the purpose of God contradicted the empire that lives against the grain of God’s intention.
And Paul summons the church and its members to exhibit in their common life the self-emptying that is congruent with Jesus. Paul knew about churches and about church people and the way we tend to act, concerned for self and our pet ideas and our intentions and our vested interests that bruise other people. And he said, do not look to your own interests.
So here is my bid to you for Holy Week. As we walk the walk from Palm Sunday to Easter through the Thursday arrest and the Friday execution and the long Saturday wait in the void, imagine all of us, in the wake of Jesus, changing our minds, renewing our minds, altering our opinions concerning self and neighbour and world. The clue to the new mind of Christ is emptying of our need to control and our anxious passion for security. And as our minds change, we come to new freedom. It is Easter freedom, unburdened and fearless, freed for the interest of the neighbour. So we worship this Jesus who was dead and is alive, who was humbled and is exalted. But we also replicate his life in our own lives. We find ourselves with Easter liberty to be our true selves as he himself was his true self. We know this very well: ‘tis a gift to be simple, ‘tis a gift to come down where we ought to be. And where we ought to be is right next to him in self-emptying obedience.
We are eager for Easter joy and new life,
and yet we are haunted by the space
between where we are and where you are.
Grant us a new mind, a new readiness,
a new heart, that we might stand with you
in self-emptying obedience. Amen
(Walter Brueggemann, “A Way Other Than Our Own” pp 82-3)