One of the hardest-to-get, most-difficult-to-live-into, toughest-to-hold-onto ideas of the truly Jesus-like life is this: A Christian lives for the sake of others. I did not make this idea up. It is not the product of some soft-minded, gushy-hearted spirituality. This idea is central to a biblical understanding of what it means to be truly a Christian—literally "a little Christ"—rather than a person merely playing at discipleship.
The mindset of Jesus
Listen to the emphasis the Apostle Paul puts on this idea, as he writes to the Christians at Philippi: "Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion …" (Phil. 2:1). Translation: If Jesus has made any real dent on you … if being his follower has had any real effect on you …"then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind" (2:2). With whom? With everybody around you? With all the people who are like you? With all the folks you naturally like or who like you? No, says Paul. Have the same love, spirit, and mind as Christ.
"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit" (2:3). In other words, don't be self-focused. You don't like that in others when you meet it—that "I'm best, me-first, who's-taking-care-of-me, what's-in-it-for-me, there-should-be-more-for-me" orientation is what got human beings in trouble in Eden and it's been wrecking life ever since. The fifth-century bishop, Augustine, said the essence of sin is this incurvatus in se: literally, this "curving in upon oneself," this tendency to think a great deal about my feelings, my opinions, ...
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