Aloha Friday Message – September 23, 2011 – Watch that attitude!

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Read it online here.

Philippians 2:5 – Have in you the same attitude that is also in Christ Jesus. http://bible.cc/philippians/2-5.htm

“What Would Jesus Do?”

Talk about a loaded question! It seems that in our lives it boils down to something more like, “What would Jesus NOT do?” He probably wouldn’t do a lot of the things that churn up our consciences. Make that should churn up our consciences. I envision that idea of conscience as “that little old man in the back-right corner of my brain.” If he is a pest at times it is only because I am so often a fool at times, and either argue with him or ignore him. That pretty much always turns out to be a mistake. As St. Paul rightly pointed out so many times, it comes down to attitude.

There’s a word I’ve always had trouble with in my personal and public life. “Drop the attitude!” I certainly heard that often while growing up in Denver. Think of “attitude” and the outcome of a judgment of someone or something (most noun-forms would fit here – person, place, animal, thing, or idea) a judgment that is rife with emotion. It can be a positive or negative thing. “He’s got a great attitude!” “You’ve got a really bad attitude young man!” A friend who performed comedy often says, “He’s suffering from a bad altitude.” While obviously a punny malaprop, it really gets at the core idea of attitude in a very graphic way.

Think of an airplane. Plane’s going up: Good attitude. Plane’s going down: Bad attitude. Plane’s in level flight: Ambivalence or uncertainty usually from doubt, indecision, insufficient knowledge, or indifference. Since attitudes are personal – they develop within us before we share or display them, they arise from our judgment of what has or is happening to us, or from what we have seen or are seeing happen to others.

After looking at that, what can we deduce or infer about what Paul is recommending to the Philippians and to us? He wants our attitude to be the same as Jesus attitude. If I pray, “Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto your heart,” I am asking to have “the attitude that is also in Christ Jesus.” In the verses immediately previous to this passage, Paul is once again sounding a very familiar theme: “Stop being divisive, and be united in love and humility as Christ has commanded and as we have taught you.”

As an example, as this passage in Philippians continues, Paul asserts that Jesus example was to set aside his own (considerable) importance and to take up the “form of a slave.” This was something he did out of obedience to his Father; his obedience was so profound that he voluntarily submitted to death, even the most shameful and horrific death of the cross. He became for the entire World – literally for Heaven and Earth and All Time – the lowest of the low. Because of this, God acclaimed and extolled him, lavishing on him the greatest name and honor. So magnificent was this blessing of God on Jesus that simply at the mention of the name JESUS, every created thing from angels to rocks would truthfully acknowledge his power, dominion, and glory.

Paul understood this, and he also understood how far from that Ideal his own life stood. Think back to the opening of The Love Chapter, 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

1 If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal. 2 And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Paul consistently tells us that we need to model our lives in the image and form of the life of Christ. There is an interesting preposition in this passage that conveyed that quite clearly to the Philippians – and to us if we are attentive: also in Christ Jesus. The preposition there is έν [en]. The connotation is of something that is permanently and naturally (uncontrived) unchanging in place, time, or condition, something that is an integral part of the location or entity. Jesus’ attitude of love, ἀγάπη, was and is a permanent, natural, integral aspect of Jesus as Lord. That’s the kind of LOVE Paul is reminding us Jesus commanded us to cultivate and share.

To me the verse, “Have in you the same attitude that is also in Christ Jesus” now comes out as “Ensure that your disposition toward all things is identical to the predominant and fundamental disposition of Christ: Perfectly modest, humble, and unselfish and utterly consecrated to the service of God and one another.” Paul has an uncanny way of packing 10 pounds of meaning into a 3 pound jar!

Going back to the imagery in 1st Corinthians and transposing it here: “You should be a symphony of loving kindness rather than the loud noise of selfish conceits.” My life should ring like a crystal bell; instead it sounds like an empty garbage can kicked down a very long staircase. Dan Seaborn (who was based “in the lovely town of Holland MI, down by the inland sea (from the Hope college Alma Mater song) is credited for coming up with “What Would Jesus Do.” It was a pretty popular motto back in the 90’s and lots of people had bracelets, T-shirts, badges, and bumper stickers reading W.W.J.D.? It got a little out of control after a while as various “special-interest groups” paraphrased the expression and the intentions behind it. WWJD in a gay bar? WWJD in a Mosque? WWMD? (for M Mohamed). WWJRD? (R for Really). SOME OF THE VARIATIONS WERE REALLY DISGUSTING. Finally after a few years the popularity faded, and the world moved on to something else. Paul’s message, however, has been true, reflected upon, preached, analyzed, memorized, and applied to daily living for over 1900 years. It’s not a catchphrase; it’s a formidable challenge.

Paul tells us Christ required and submitted to humility before all other things. It took humility to obey. It took humility to empty himself and become an earthling. It took humility to direct his life and our hearts to God. It takes love to be humble. “Be Humble Like Jesus.” B.H.L.J.” I guess if I really want to do that, I should stop imagining T-shirts and bumper-stickers with that printed in big, bold letters. Something like that would look like the sound of a dozen trash cans being kicked down the stair. Maybe it would be better to just listen to that little old guy in the back of my head, zip my lip, and light up my heart so I can clearly see all the things I do that Jesus wouldn’t do.

Share-A-Prayer:

For the friends and relatives of Rodriquez family in NM coping with the tragic death of a valued family member, JR, we pray, “Jesus meek and humble of heart, make our hearts like your heart.”

For the marginalized, lonely, abandoned, an every soul that is shunned, we pray, “Jesus meek and humble of heart, make our hearts like your heart.”

For compassionate hearts when confronted with the selfish, the arrogant, the violent, the contemptible, and the malicious earthlings whose hearts and minds and souls reject all that comes from God’s Love, we pray, “Jesus meek and humble of heart, make our hearts like your heart.”

Bless and protect the lives and works of the gallant men and women who serve in our Armed Forces around the world. For those who are in the greatest danger in combat zones, send your mighty angels to stand with them against our foes as we also stand with them and pray, Bless and protect the lives and works of the gallant men and women who serve in our Armed Forces around the world. For those who are in the greatest danger in combat zones, send your mighty angels to stand with them against our foes.

For all the prayers and petitions we embrace with hope in our hearts, we pray, “Jesus meek and humble of heart, make our hearts like your heart.”

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Beloved.

Father, I take a moment to remember everyone in the Moon Beam Network. Watch over them all. Bless them. Protect them. Guide them. Direct them. Keep them all safe from any harm or danger in body mind and spirit. See to their temporal needs and continue to call them all to a deeper spiritual awareness of and commitment to you. Give them your Light. Bless everyone who prays for us and everyone who asks for our prayers. Bless all of us with the will to do small things with great love which we share among all of the members of the Moon Beam Network. Likewise bless everyone I have ever loved and everyone who has ever loved me, and anyone who has ever loved them, for the love we have comes from You through Your Son Jesus the Christ by the ministry of The Holy Spirit. AMEN.

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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