PRAYER OF CONSECRATION
Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.
Jesus, I belong to you.
I lift up my heart to you.
I set my mind on you.
I fix my eyes on you.
I offer my body to you as a living sacrifice.
Jesus, we belong to you.
Praying in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, amen.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Our text reveals that God’s entire way of thinking, being, and doing is different and higher than ours. The distance between God’s thoughts and our own is compared to the distance between heaven and earth.
Though this distance may seem great, it’s not as far as you may think. Jesus inaugurated the in-breaking of the kingdom of heaven on earth. At Pentecost, the Spirit continued the invasion, filling God’s people and giving birth to the church.
What I’m getting at is because of where we are in the story, we aren’t left in our own ways and stuck with our own thoughts. As we surrender them, they can actually be shaped by the Spirit to align more and more with God’s.
Describing this process, James Smith says
Jesus’s command to follow him is a command to align our loves and longings with his—to want what God wants, to desire what God desires, to hunger and thirst after God and crave a world where he is all in all—a vision encapsulated by the shorthand “the kingdom of God.” 1
Though it costs nothing to receive the love of God, following Jesus, and becoming like him, costs everything.
In Jesus, we see God’s way displayed most clearly: the way of the cross. In the kingdom of God, the way up is down. As we follow Jesus, we discover the higher way is a low one.
In Philippians, Paul urges us to have the mindset of Christ, and then outlines what that mindset is:
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (2:3–11)
Our belonging to Jesus shapes and transforms our relationships and way of being in the world. Selfish ambition is replaced with service. The interests of others are valued above our own.
Paul’s exhortation to have the same mindset as Christ implies that such transformation is not only possible but essential. This goes beyond “do what Jesus did.” It includes having the same heart, mind, and intention while doing such. God is not just after service in behavior, or the appearance of humility, but selflessness in heart: transformation of the whole person. It is not just about conforming our ways but aligning our thoughts with Christ.
Though we may be able to grit our teeth through (decently) good behavior, we cannot muscle our way into a mindset. This is the fruit of an abiding life with the Spirit.
David Benner wrote about this process:
Divine love transforms both my heart and my will. Divine love enables me to choose God’s will over mine. Without this, repentance will be nothing more than a self-help scheme based on effort and resolve.2
Jesus’s whole being was deeply connected to the love of the Father. All that he did, and the way he did it, came from a place of intimacy. The verses prior to the ones we just read talk about being “united with Christ,” experiencing “comfort from his love,” and a “common sharing of the Spirit.” These are the soil from which the mindset of Christ grows. Our thoughts and our ways cannot be brought into alignment with God’s without communion with him. This makes sense on a very practical level—you cannot become like someone if you don’t know what they are like.
Ultimately, aligning our thoughts and ways with Jesus isn’t even about us. As we exchange our thoughts for his and our ways for his, we participate in the greater narrative of redemption. It’s not merely a personal transformation, but a cosmic one.
Jesus, just as heaven broke into earth bringing transformation and redemption, would your thoughts break into my thoughts and your ways break into my ways? May your presence in me dismantle my tendencies toward self-interest and selfish ambition. Replace them with your humility so that your glory and exaltation would be welcomed in and through me. Amen.
Inviting the Holy Spirit to guide me, I ask myself these questions:
- Are there any ways of being or thinking in me that God might want to transform today?
- Is there anywhere I have mirrored certain actions or behaviors that resemble what Jesus did without the mindset of Jesus?
For the Awakening,
Anna Grace Legband
- James K. A. Smith, You Are What You Love, 2.
- David Benner, Surrender to Love.