There is a tremendous amount of pressure on young preachers in this day and age. Success isn’t measured by faithfulness to the Word of God, but rather by how many people are in your church or how much money you collect. It seems that most people have forgotten perhaps the most important aspect of being a Christian: the mindset of Jesus Christ.
In Philippians chapter two, verses five through eleven, we get a sense of who Jesus really was. To interpret this beautiful poem as some kind of reference to a “pre-existent son“ humbling himself is not only incorrect, but also completely missing the point. This is Paul describing Jesus as a man, a flesh and blood being, who had every opportunity to take advantage of his God-nature, but didn’t. In other words, he epitomized everything that this generation seems to be avoiding. After all, we can’t seem to pass up any opportunity to promote ourselves.
My fear is that we are creating a culture of believers, especially in America, who are more concerned with how others view them rather than how God views them. We need a fresh baptism of the mind of Christ. In its very essence that means a return to humility. It does us no good to promote ourselves and our own agendas, but like Christ, we must be about the Father’s business.
At the very beginning of his much-discussed “Lord’s Prayer,” Jesus makes this statement: “Your kingdom come, and your will be done.” This epitomized the very definition of the life of Jesus. All the way up until he breathed his last breath, he put aside his own way of thinking and feeling, and submitted fully to the plan of God. Our Christianity today looks a lot different than that.
Humility hurts. It stings. But most importantly, it destroys our flesh. That’s why humility is such an important part of being a Christian. It gets us out of our own ways of thinking and our own comfort, and ushers us into the very mindset of Jesus Christ himself. We are never more like Jesus than when we are humble.
In the very next chapter after his poem about the mindset of Christ, Paul makes this astounding statement: “That I may know him, and the fellowship of his sufferings…” What is Paul saying? The only way to truly know Jesus is to fellowship with him in suffering, and be made conformable to his death. Paul certainly wouldn’t recognize the brand of Christianity that we regularly practice. For him it wasn’t about numbers or “performance”, but rather about gaining and maintaining the mindset of Jesus Christ.
The church already has enough professional preachers. What we really need is a reigniting of humility, not just in lip service, but in practice. The early church was so successful because they were built on the foundation of exalting God first, and putting everyone else ahead of themselves. The question is do we really want to be like the early church, or is that something we just say now? At some point lip service must translate into practice.