I went on a rant the other night to my husband about a commonly uttered phrase in Christian communities, that is being “like-minded.”
I thought, perhaps, it was my individualist culture resisting conformity, but in fact, I think the thing that rubs me wrong is that our implicit meaning of the term often doesn’t jive with the larger context of the call to be of one mind, namely the mind of Christ, in scripture.
Does being like-minded mean we line up as Christians united around a smattering of political issues or a certain theology, or does it mean that we earnestly seek the mind of Christ, building one another up in the difficult life of faith?
In last night’s devotions I was lead to none other than Philippians 2:1-11, from which the phrase comes. The particular passage, appropriately entitled “Imitating Christ’s Humility” in my NRSV exhorts us to be “of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.” But immediately following, and presumably a more thorough description of what this looks like reads, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others better than yourselves. 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 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…” (Philippians 2:3-8).
I think we Christians too often use the term “like-minded” to exclude those who do not act like us, to look down upon others, in short, to look to our own interests and make ourselves comfortable. Being of the same mind of Christ clearly entails that we humble ourselves, we empty ourselves, take the form of slaves, and regard others better than ourselves. Suddenly being like-minded is something we Christians can hardly call ourselves, something that hardly describes our own behavior, because we fall so short of the glory of God. In fact, just as Christ did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, we must not tarnish or exploit our God by presuming to have achieved such like-mindedness, or presuming to know what qualifies a brother or a sister as a true Christian.
O, God, that you would humble us, as you yourself did, so that we can center our very lives around your example, and grow closer together as brothers and sisters, rather than further apart. Make us of one mind, that of your own, your holiness, all that you are and all that we are not. And may we be that salt of the earth, that light to the world, by putting others above ourselves, and putting you above all else, forever and ever. Amen.