“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Phil. 2:5-8).
These four verses are all one sentence in both the Greek and English texts. The major thought is in the words “Let this mind be in you” (Phil. 2:5). In other words, think like this. Jesus left heaven and became human doing the work of a servant to be obedient even to death on a cross. Such is the epitome of getting out of one’s comfort zone. This challenge is followed up with the words, “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12). Therefore, the point of this section is having Jesus as the example, keep on obeying no matter what.
Continual obedience is tough. It means getting out of one’s comfort zone time and time again. Consider three areas of getting out of one’s comfort zone that some may not think about in the realm of serving like Christ.
- Focusing on the Little Things. While there is a tendency for some to want to focus on activities that attract the eyes of men (cf. Matt. 6:1-18), Jesus would concentrate on things people would leave unnoticed. Jesus spoke up about a widow who gives two mites (cf. Mark 12:41-44). Jesus speaks up about people who do basic things for the “least of these my brethren” (Matt. 25:40). Jesus gave attention to little children where others would seek to hinder (cf. Mark 10:13-16). Jesus would wash the disciples’ feet where others would not serve (cf. John 13:4-17). Over and over Jesus pointed out small things as being important. One sheep among a hundred (cf. Luke 15:4), one coin among ten (cf. Luke 15:8), one penitent, prodigal son returning home (cf. Luke 15:12-24) all show that Jesus is concerned with the individual as much as for the whole world.
- Friendly to New Faces. Here is an area where every congregation can improve. Anyone who travels knows what it is like to worship with a congregation where one is unknown. While all congregations have the words “everyone welcome,” such can be very hollow if actions do not back up those words. Jesus, while not a participant in sinful behavior (cf. 1 Peter 2:22) was a “friend of publicans and sinners” (Luke 7:34). Jesus befriended a woman from Samaria (cf. John 4:7-9). Jesus, as the greatest friend to all humanity, laid down his life for his friends (cf. John 15:13). Some people are very uncomfortable speaking to strangers, even fellow members of the church. All need to treat each other by the “golden rule” (cf. Matt. 7:12).
- Facing Challenges Optimistically. Pessimism was not the mind of Christ. He said himself, “be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). It is the rare person indeed who does not get “caught up” in the negative. One can get comfortable in “murmurings and disputings” (Phil. 2:14) fashioned by the world’s thinking and practice (cf. Phil 2:15). Developing great thinking habits (cf. Phil. 4:8) can create a positive mindset that benefits now and eternally.