Having the Mind of Christ
God bless Paul. The older I get and the more years that I log as a priest to the Church, the more I realize how dialed in he was on the life in Christ we strive to live in community with each other in this world. Sometimes that knowledge is balm, reminding me of the love of God and the grace of Christ. That knowledge brings consolation when I am broken. It provokes me to action when the world is too out of whack with God's will. It reminds me to pray first, seeking the mind of Christ before I speak or act.
That knowledge also shows me how hard it is to live in Christ when there is conflict in my community. The world is not always welcoming of what Christ asks of us...and Paul is transparent around that heartbreak as well. God bless Paul.
Paul also exhibits that while knowledge of the dynamics of life in the church are discernable, particularly when we have the mind of Christ, it is the wisdom to put those dynamics to use for the greater glory of God that defines the health of the church. His letters to the people of Corinth are a bold commitment to address those dynamics, head on. He is confronting the dark stuff in our church life. His first letter to the Corinthians is a great example of his way of speaking truth to power, and his willingness to engage the hard questions created by the conflicts running through the church in Corinth is profoundly apparent. He names the struggles, calls out the involved parties and without naming too many names he invites all to the table (quite literally) and reminds them that the only true source of community they can claim is in the person of Jesus Christ. It is a bold assertion, and I am sure it hit the church like a ton of bricks the first time it was read to them in assembly.
The challenge for us as human beings in community is that while it might be easier to live parallel lives, the reality of authentic life in community is much messier. Parallel lives are not sustainable, the trajectories waver, and the lines cross. That creates conflict, and it also reveals to ourselves (if we are willing to see it) and to others (usually more apparent) when we are in the mind of the Christ, and when we have departed from it.
Before we can weave our various agendas into a cohesive vision inspired by the Holy Spirit and vested in the mind of Christ, we have to comb through the knots and tangles that our crisscrossing personal agendas create and the conflicts those tangles inspire. We have to be willing to look at our own agendas critically, and at our neighbor's with compassion. We have to take on the mind of Christ, knowing that our perspectives will be challenged and that we will be transformed in some remarkable ways that we might not find so comfortable at first; but in that transformation we find real, true growth in faith. In that transformation, as well, the Church receives a stronger foundation and a more vital sense of itself. Once we are willing as individuals to dwell in the mind of Christ, then it follows that the Church resulting from those individuals forming community will be a truer vision of the kingdom of God.
The only things we have to surrender? Our pride, our certainty...you know, that stuff.