The NIV translates Philippians 2:5 “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus”. The KJV translates it differently. Instead of “Your attitude should be…” it says, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” Now, I realize that ATTITUDE is probably the best translation, but I’ve always liked the idea that our minds ought to indeed be the mind of Christ.
Minds are incredible things to me. Minds and brains are clearly different things. For instance, all of us have known people with brains who didn’t seem to have a mind. The brain, therefore, is but the vehicle, and the mind is the driver. The brain is that three-pound organ, that tiny softball of decision, perched on top of the spinal cord, by which we make our way through life.
It operates at various levels of activity and frenzy. For instance, if the brain is operating at 0 to 3 cycles per second, it is in a theta stage, a coma kind of a stage, and death is pending. If the brain speeds up to a delta-wave condition, 4 to 6 cycles per second, it is an occasion mostly of deep sleep common to listening to a sermon series on Leviticus. If it speeds up to between 7 to 13 cycles per second, it’s in a beta stage, which is a creative, restful stage of mind. It it speeds up to 14 to 21 cycles per second, it is in the alpha stage, the typical Christian chuch stage that is perfect for baking casseroles and going to meetings. And at 21+, it is in a gamma stage, which is a hassled, hurried, frenzied state of life.
I believe that brains are put there for a specific reason, and I think Phil. 2:5 encourages us to let it be the dwelling place of God. Carl Sagan said of the brain that it is “about 3 pounds of a messy substance, shut up in a dark, warm place. It is a pinkish-gray mass, moist and rubbery to the touch. About the size of a softball, it perches like a flower on top of the spinal column and is connected by the finest fibers and filaments to every nook and cranny of our bodies.” I am told that there are an estimated 13 billion nerve cells inside the brain itself, and most of these cells junction with 5,000 other nearby nerve cells. Some 50,000 of these synapses, or junctions, exist in our bodies. (These numbers are too big for me to even comprehind)
The word ASTRONOMICAL isn’t big enough to describe this, for the number of known cells in the brain far exceeds the number of stars we know about in all the galaxies. Just take the nerves that run to the skin, for instance. There are some 4 million nerve endings sensitive to pain. Some 500,000 keep track of touch or pressure. Another 200,000 keep track of temperature. Add the big ones – the eyes, ears, nose, and tongue – and you begin to get the picture. The best way to picture a brain’s network is to imagine thousands of telephone exchanges, each one big enough for a city the size of Atlanta, and you begin to get the picture of the marvelous complexity of the human brain.
Brains are impressive, even in nerds and dorks and television evangelists. What amazes me about them is that they’re all about the same size. It amazes me, for instance, that Madame Curie and Sarah Palin have about the same size brain. Or Stephen Hawkin and David Spade – all about the same size.
But when I read a passage like Phil 2, I become aware that for all its beauty and complexity, the mind, the driver for the brain, is the dwelling place of God.
The mind of Christ is that which is to inhabit me. The mind of Christ is that which to inhabit you. We use the word MIND as an adjective, for instance as being high-minded or low-minded or filthy-minded or empty-minded. But we also use it as a verb: to mind your manners or mind your business or “Do you mind?” or “Don’t mind if I do.” That active sense is what Paul is talking about.
To understanding Phil. 2:5 ,I think you have to read Phil. 2:8, where it says that And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross! This verse has always troubled me a little, because if there’s any doctrine I personally prize, it is the doctrine of the sinlessness of Jesus. To speak of Him becoming obedient bothered me a bit. But I now realize that the emphasis here is on BECOMING, that this Jesus is Lord, who would become my divine mind implant – this Jesus had to learn what it meant to become human. He was not born as Saint Alphonsis suggested. Saint Alphonsis wrote that shortly after birth, Jesus sat up in the straw, umbilical still wet, and said, “Hi, Mary, I’m Jesus, the Son of God.” (That’s my own translation but that is pretty much what Alphonsis taught). I have so much trouble with that. Jesus wasn’t born anymore fully formed as a human than any of us! The emphasis in Phil 2:8 is that Jesus, like all of us, had a mind that was in the process of becoming.
Talk about the messianic consciousness – the idea of Jesus’ discovering who he is, the divine Son of God – and that discovery goes on and on and on from His birth to His death. Just as in our lives our minds change as we become more and more aware of who we really are. Isn’t it amazing that in our lives we have to stop and say over something we did only a year or so ago? How many times have I said to myself “Was I really stupid enough to say that last year (or decade)?” The process of the growing mind moves on and on, and it begins gradually.
My grandsons are a laboratory on becoming! One of them upon discovering that “Papa” and “Mimi” were their mother’s dad and mom said, “That explains why you come and visit all the time!” The growing mind becomes and moves on and on.
I remember when I was in the first grade and Mrs. Weaver, my first grade teacher, asked me what my name was. I knew that. And then she asked me what my mother’s name was. I said to her, “Mother.”. She said, “No, that is not her name.” I said, “Yes it is. We all call her that.” She said, No, it’s not ‘Mother’, it’s something else.” I said, “No, it’s not.” She said, “Look, Mother is what she is, Mother is what she does, but Mother’s not her name.” And I said, “Well, I’m sure you’re wrong, but I’ll ask her this afternoon.” (I was a precocious kid)
So when I got home from school that afternoon, I rushed into the kitchen where my Mother and I had our daily debriefing over cookies and milk. I said, “Mother, do you have another name besides ‘Mother’?”. She said, “Well, yes, Tim. My name is Helen.” Then she said, “And not only that, but I have a middle name, too. It’s Joyce.”. And then she said, which was the most astounding revelation of all, “Hudson is my last name.”
It was the same name as I had! I have never forgotten that sense of growing awareness that dawned on me. And now I get to see that same growing awareness in my grandsons! That’s how the mind is. It is in the process of becoming. Phil 2:8 includes the incarnate Jesus in that process. He “became” obedient. I am becoming more aware every day. You are in the lifelong process of becoming. Change then is the order of the day. The mind of Christ in us is not static. We don’t just “get it”, rather “the mind of Christ” is constantly in the process of becoming more aware of who we are in Jesus.
Spiritually, change still is the order of the day!
Read Philippians 2 yourself. I would love to hear your thoughts on the passage.