The Mind of Christ

For a lot of the holidays we celebrate, people usually have several regular traditions. For example, on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day we will make a special effort to show our gratitude to our parents. On Thanksgiving we take the opportunity to thank those around us and also give thanks to God. On Christmas we gather at church and celebrate that Jesus Christ came to Earth. For New Year’s, it’s a time where we can set new goals for a new year.

As I was think about how to celebrate Christmas this year, God gave me this passage: Philippians 2:5-11.

5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,

6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,

7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.

8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.

9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name,

10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth,

11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

The “form” that is mentioned in v. 6-7 is referring to the fact that Jesus has the status of God with power and authority. “Likeness” in v. 7 is referring to His physical appearance while on Earth. “Made Himself of no reputation” means that He emptied Himself and took on complete submission born out of humility. V. 6-8 talk about Christ’s coming and the reasons for it. V. 9-11 talks about God’s exaltation of Jesus Christ. Therefore, God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name (for He will save the people from their sins).

Many times when I have a lot on my mind I will think of my dear little brother. That was the case while I was thinking about this passage. In the midst of the pain of my brother’s passing there was one thing that God helped me understand and brought comfort to me. That thing is our dear Heavenly Father is also a Father who has lost His Son. And because of that loss He can completely understand my feelings and comfort me. It’s hard to imagine how God must have felt watching His Son come to Earth. It’s also hard to imagine how much God loves us that He would give us His only Son so that those who believe in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.

Jesus Christ was willing to take upon his shoulders this huge and weighty mission by humbling Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. He died on the cross for our sins, to save us from the power of sin and death. The love Jesus showed for the Father is what we should be emulating. A love that is fully aware of the Father’s love for the world. A heart that was willing to empty itself for the sake of the Father. He was willing to humble Himself. He was willing to submit. This passage’s most important line is right there at the beginning:  Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.

This Christmas is a great opportunity for me to think about God’s love for me. To think about whether or not I’m willing to follow Jesus Christ’s example of humility. To follow His example of submission. To follow the example of intense, deep love that our Prince gives to us. To follow the example of Jesus Christ and let that heart be in me which was also in Christ Jesus.

On the flight back to Taiwan I saw a movie where a girl became crazily infatuated with a boy to the point where she was willing to try anything to make him happy. One day the boy asked her “Do you love me enough to die for me?”. After the girl said she would be willing to die for him the boy immediately posed a second question “No, dying is too easy. Are you willing to live for me?”

We should often be considering whether or not we love God to the point where we are eager to live for Him. We are carrying His death with us and we should let the Life of Jesus Christ also be evident in our lives. By having the mind of Jesus Christ we let Him become our living navigation system, our Google Map, a mobile battery pack that never runs out, fresh water on a sunny day or a warm coat in the middle of winter.

Jesus Christ’s gift of salvation is already there in front of us, but if we’re not willing to open the gift, it will never really be ours. And if I open the gift but don’t appreciate it then I’ll never understand its beauty. I’m willing to open this wonderful gift, enjoy its beauty, and practice throughout this new year how to have the mind of Jesus Christ.


Author: Uria Hsiung

Translation: Ethan Feig

another face of humility

imageThere’s a lot to be learned about humility. Right when I think that maybe I’m starting to get it…BAM. Pride smacks me in the face. Am I the only one who feels like trying to understand humility is like grasping for the wind?

But God has been teaching me humility in rather surprising ways. He’s been showing me that one face of humility is opening wide your hands and accepting with gratitude whatever God chooses to give. Not just the good things, but the hard, painful and disappointing things too.

Without going into all the ups and downs of life’s circumstances this year, I’ll just say this: I haven’t liked all of the things God has chosen to give me. I’ve thrown up a few fists and shouted “Why, God?” because deep down I’ve bought into the idea that I deserve better. I deserve to succeed, to live life pain-free, to be happy. I become the center and it’s here, here that ingratitude and pride squelches out joy.

Wasn’t ingratitude the problem from the beginning, from the Garden of Eden? Adam and Eve had everything and yet they let themselves believe that it wasn’t enough. They thought that they deserved better, and because they chose ingratitude, they were banished from the garden and broken off from communion with their Source of eternal joy and happiness.

Ingratitude. Pride. Fists in the air. “I deserve better.” This has been our story ever since that fateful day in the garden.

Thousands of years later, a better and more perfect Adam came, and it was He (Jesus) who lived the perfect life of gratitude to His Father, gave thanks over the Last Supper, and accepted the path of suffering that His Father had willed Him to endure. If anyone deserved better, it was Jesus. He wept, grieved, and He even asked “Why?” but then we see Him doing what Adam, Eve, and everyone since have failed to do. He completely trusted His Father’s love for Him and accepted the cup that was before Him, even though it meant losing His very life. He opened wide His hands to receive and because He did, we can now live and be restored to the only source that will bring us true joy.

Humility is opening our hands and accepting with thanksgiving whatever God chooses to give. Pride clutches it’s fist at troubles and let downs and says “I deserve better!” but humility sees everything – the good, the bad, and the painful – as given from an infinitely good and loving Father, Who loves better and more fully than we could ever imagine, and who uses even our troubles to prepare us “for an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” [2 Corinthians 4:7]

The Universe and You

The Carina Nebula

I’m not sure if the Chinese language has a similar way of expressing this, but in English we have a saying (typically spoken as an exasperated reminder): “The world does not revolve around you!” Implying that you are only concerned about your personal needs and problems and want to be treated like the entitled ruler you believe you are. When analyzing ourselves objectively, we usually can realize the arrogance in living with that mindset. If you’re a Christian, then hopefully you can take James’, the brother of Jesus, reminder to heart: “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6).

But what if we look at this even deeper? Part of living of like God is real is honoring Him for the holy and awesome creator that He is. We know that we are not the center of the universe, but how would we live if we fully understood how mighty this God is who with a word spoke the heavens into place, flung the stars, and gave the earth its frame? This point is emphasized in Psalm 89:6-7 – “For who in the skies is comparable to the Lord? Who among the sons of the mighty is like the Lord? God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be held in reverence by all those around Him.”

Feeling kind of small and unimportant yet? You should. Our God is mindful of us, loves us dearly (Psalm 8:3-5), and even tells us to boldly approach His throne (Hebrews 4:16) – but you cannot forget He is deserving of all your respect and devotion. If that doesn’t translate to a life that’s lived in humility then you’re still not recognizing the greatness of our King. With every new discovery that science makes, it simply confirms the complexity and awe of everything around us and tells of a magnificent designer (check out this “Scale of the Universe” if you want to have some fun with that topic).

Our God is great. Greater than we’ll ever realize – but that should not stop us from trying to realize or understand it. The minute we start treating God like an equal or even approaching Him like we’re entitled to something, we’re placing our Creator on a level that is blasphemous. You aren’t the center of the universe – but how about we all start living for the One who is.

Disclaimer: My apologies if this post comes off a little “preachy.” I recently had the opportunity to do a study on this topic, and since then it’s been hitting pretty close to my heart.

A Lesson I Haven’t Learned

I hurt my knee recently. It wasn’t serious; I just bruised it slightly playing football. However, to give it time to heal I stopped running for a few days and favored that leg until it felt fine to walk on it again.

On an unrelated note, the idea of ‘community’ has been a recent trending topic in Christian circles. I’ve certainly talked about it a lot in the past few years and have read blog posts, heard sermons, and been a part of Bible studies that have discussed what Christian community should look like.

Christian community has many different aspects including encouraging each other, providing for each other, guiding each other, warning each other and building each other up in the love of Christ, but hurting my leg got me thinking about another part of Christian community talked about in Galatians 6.

 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2, ESV).

We’re told to look out for each other in difficult times. In addition to providing encouragement and spiritual companionship, the idea of community also has a very active component to it. When I hurt my knee I had to rely on my other leg more while the hurt one healed. In the same way, as members of the Body of Christ, when one of us is hurting, overwhelmed, scared or frustrated God asks the rest of us to step up. Take on some of that hardship. Help a brother out.

Photo by Creativity103

From what I can see, sharing burdens requires two things. First, it requires Christians who are willing to reach out to their fellow believers in love, compassion and often forgiveness. Now for what I haven’t learned yet. The second thing this requires is people who are willing to admit they are scared, hurt, confused, frustrated and unable. It require people to admit they need help. It requires believers to admit that they can’t handle their problems on their own.

It requires me to admit that I’m weak and incapable. I have to admit that God has put other weak and incapable people around me to help me, that I need them. It requires humility.

Are you willing to be someone’s Christian community?

Or do you need a helping hand?

Can you admit your need?

Carbon Monoxide of Sin

So, I had the privilege of meeting a moderately influential individual a couple of months ago. However, what impressed me more than who he knew was the attitude he displayed in connecting God’s people with some of his influential/prominent friends. If you happened to share with him your vision to, let’s say, head to Africa to be involved in missions trips, or even look for a new area of the country to hold the VOICE Conference, he would immediately begin thinking of ways to link you with one of his other friends who would be able to help you with your vision.

Why was this so noticeable to me? Mainly because his example of humility to bless God’s people helped reveal some of the pride that was hidden in my own heart. You see, this man lived life with the perspective that what is good for the Kingdom is good for him. Meaning, his personal agenda was not going to get in the way of advancing God’s Kingdom. Can I say that about myself? How often have I wanted to hold onto my friends, so that I could keep my cool connections to myself? How many times do I live life with the outlook to advance my own selfish “spiritual” ambitions?

A pastor I listened to the other day stated that it isn’t very difficult to uncover the majority of sins that lie deep in our heart…except for pride. Pride is the carbon monoxide of sin – it virtually is impossible to discover on our own – we need the Holy Spirit’s help! It’s a silent killer and it works its way into every area of our life – especially in our spiritual interaction. Can you honestly say that what is good for the Kingdom is good enough for you?

Getting Over Myself

I think the biggest hindrance to God working in my life is myself. My own pride is the thing that prevents me from hearing constructive criticism or changing the way I do things to make them better. What if I didn’t fear the opinions of those around me? I would have so much more freedom to be who I really was and do the things I really felt called to do.

Scripture says that God hates pride (Proverbs 16:5). It also says that God is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6). This is good news! It means that God is on our side to help us get over ourselves! He hates our pride even more than we do and sent His Son to die on the cross to save us from ourselves.

Here are a couple ideas for getting over yourself:

  • Pray Boldly! You know that God is on your side!
  • Plan Ahead. Make decision ahead of time when you know that you will be in high pressure environments where you won’t want to do the right thing.
  • Say No. When you find yourself leaning into something that is not what God has called you to, say no.
  • Live Boldly. Watch diligently for the fear of others opinions in your soul and act against it when it comes.

Remember, Christ DIED for your sins, so that you could live in freedom FOR Him. You are not alone!


A Musical Disaster

Everything was going wrong.

I was part of a recent workshop for the pianists in my church. My assignment was simple. I just had to play a hymn, everyone would sing along, and then discuss the song together. I mean, I played the piano for worship at VOICE for years. I wrote musicals. I would of course come up with something profound for the other pianists to learn from.

But it was absolutely awful.

I sat down at the piano, and I suddenly felt my vision narrowing. I couldn’t think. I didn’t know what my fingers were doing. My rhythm was nonexistent. My introduction didn’t make any sense. I played way too fast.

I was so embarrassed.

I began to analyze my failure. I thought back to my first ever recital when I was seven years old. That was also a flop–I completely forgot my memorized piece, and I burst into tears while on stage. Was I forever doomed to bad nerves? I didn’t think I was nervous, I was confident in my abilities. So what happened?

Simple. I was focused on myself.

I wasn’t focused on learning how to better worship the Lord, I was focused on showing my own skills. I wanted everyone to see how special I was, surprise them with my musical genius. Deep down inside, I was also afraid of ruining my reputation as a pianist in front of all the other pianists in the church.

If I really believed that God was real, then should I be making music for my own glory or for His?

The right answer is pretty obvious, and yet this is a lesson I still struggle with. So often I am more concerned about what others think, forgetting what really matters to God.

Lord, please do not let me use my talents for myself, but to serve you, and to bring all honor to you.

The Quest for Humility

The Quest for Humility

I own my own business, and this title has been the theme of my business interactions for the past 6 months. Humility is not something that I have found in a “How to Start a Business” guide or on the cover of the latest Entrepreneur magazine. However, it is something I find all over in Scripture. The classic passage that comes to mind is “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

Let’s imagine for a moment that God is real, that He really is who He says He is, and that He will really do what He says He will do. “God is opposed to the proud…” Does He really mean that? What does “opposed” mean? Will He wreck my business? Destroy my relationships? Waste away my money? I do not know, but if He’s real…

Now quit pretending and start living. Drop the fronts and be who you are, nothing better, and nothing worse. Acknowledge your mistakes. Build upon your successes. Be the man or woman you were made to be for the glory of God.

Rowan Gillson