Faith United Methodist Church

October 1, 2017

World Communion Sunday / Family Sunday

Rev. Kristabeth Atwood

Scripture: Philippians 2:1-5

Prayer of Illumination:

We thank you, Gracious God, that you answer all who call on your name.  Make us bold to ask for your help and eager to hear your word.  May our faith in you transform our lives into testimonies to your love and power.  Amen.

Sermon:                                           Think Tank

Today is the animal blessing, so I’ll tell you something about my dogs.  Niles is my service-dog-in-training who has been in training for four years.  (He’s not the quickest study.)  Bady, who is my 10-year-old service-dog, is a thoughtful – I might even say intellectual – dog.  He does that adorable dog-thing where he tilts his head as he thinks things through.  Niles, though, is all impulse.  He’s the only German Shepherd we know who doesn’t tilt his head.  He can’t be bothered with thinking.  We joke that the only way we can tell that Niles is thinking is if that spot on the top of his head (between his ears) is warm…… We know who’s the brains in this think-tank. 

The Scripture lesson for this morning got me thinking about thinking.  Paul tells us that we are to have the mind of Christ.  Does that mean that we are to think like Christ?  And, if so, how does that work?  Would that make us Christians a “think-tank” of sorts?  A group of people to provide information, ideas and advice on Christian things?  Or maybe we’re thinking too much.  Is there more to having the mind of Christ than thinking?  Does having the mind of Christ call us to act in a certain way?

As Paul wrote, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as 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.”

It seems to me that having the mind of Christ means living so that others can see Christ in us.  Having the mind of Christ means letting go of ourselves, our ego, and those things that get in the way of furthering Christ’s work in the world.  As William Greenway suggests in Feasting on the Word, “One does not self-empty by focusing on oneself.  One is emptied of self to the degree one is overcome by the needs, pains, hopes and desires of others.”  If we adopt Christ’s attitude our work will reflect an unselfishness, a lack of competition, a humility, and an effort to strive and serve.

When we live in Christ our own preferences, rights, power and desires drop out of the short list of most important things in life.  Instead of doing things in our own power, we do things in the power of Christ.  When we live in Christ we recognize that whatever humble authority we carry within us comes from God and God alone.

So maybe the lesson here is not to think too much.  Maybe we are to be more like Niles ~ all action.  Action that grows out of humility, love, and generosity, knowing that Christ is with us.  Sometimes ~ sometime ~ we have to stop thinking and just get to work.

Thanks be to the One who empowers us to do more and greater things than we could, alone, imagine.  Thanks be to the One who gifts us with the work of the Kingdom.  Amen.