Happy Father’s Day everyone, you know as a Father of four I can tell you that there really isn’t too many dull moments in my home. There also aren’t too many moments that are just mine. You know, those moments where you can just kick your feet up on a recliner and watch a game? Those moments when no one wants or expects anything from you? I don’t see too many of those, and I want to be very clear with you. I am more than ok with that. I have four amazing children, who all seem to have very different goals for me all the time. I can be outside throwing football with Trey, while Sydney is on the trampoline asking me to watch her latest acrobatics, while Jaden wants to show me his latest soccer move, with Monica asking if I saw the jump shot she just made. Typically while that is going on my min pin Toby is pooping in my neighbor’s yard, or digging up there perfect flower beds. The reality is that it can be a little chaotic at times that is for sure but I wouldn’t change a thing about it. You may not know this but I have like every man’s dream…I have a man cave. I mean it is everything you would want in a man cave. I am so proud of my little hang out area…but most of the time I spend in my man cave is not watching a sporting event, but watching “Too Cute” or “A Pair of Kings” marathon, or a Monster truck rally, or maybe if I’m lucky Wipeout, if I’m not so lucky it’s a Fairy Princess movie. This all happens while I know I could be watching some amazing sporting events. Being a dad is a pretty awesome thing…but the reality is, I don’t really always do the things that I want to do. Maybe I should rephrase that, because what I want to do is what makes my family happy…I guess what I mean is I don’t seem to be doing what I would have expected. I didn’t expect to coach soccer, or sit at gymnastics practice, or run field to field, or even being watching a Fairy Princess movie while the Stanley Cup playoffs are happening on another channel. The other night I was outside sitting by a fire with my family and I realized something. My needs, my desires, and my wants have completely changed. I don’t want to do the things I want to do anymore. I don’t need to do the things that I used to think I needed to do anymore. My desire is to see my children happy. As I sat out by the fire making smore’s with my kids I realized that the guy I used to be, and the guy I am today are two very different people. In fact I think the 19 year old version of me would be looking at the 37 year old version of me I would see my life as unfair. The 19 year old version of me would be looking for my “me time.” I think the 19 year old version of me could never understand the love that I have in my heart for my family. The reality is that as a father I look at life very differently and my deepest joy and my deepest desire isn’t for me anymore, it is for my wife and kids. I think it is in this moment that I can understand a little bit of what it means to think as Jesus thinks, and to maybe begin to catch a small glimpse of life through the eyes of Jesus. We have spent the last 8 weeks talking about thinking with the mind of Christ. Well that leads to a pretty big question doesn’t it?
Why do we need to think as Jesus thinks?
It’s because a man or woman who doesn’t have the mind of Christ lives completely for themselves. This person needs and wants everything to be fair. A person who does not think as Christ thinks could never put anyone above themselves long enough to help them get ahead. Some of you are sitting there right now thinking that could never be you…you could never be that self-less, I would encourage you to look at the relationship you have with your son or daughter. Not only can you put someone ahead of yourself, but you probably are! To think as Christ thinks means that we are no longer worried about life being fair. We are completely focused on God, and the love we have for others. If you have children and you have been wondering for the last 8 weeks how it would feel to think as Christ thinks…stop today, and play with your kids. Go outside and watch them laugh, give them a huge hug, look deep into their eyes and know…that is exactly how God looks at you.
When you think with the mind of Christ a couple things happen.
- You don’t keep score or compare yourself to others.
- You see your true value not all your issues.
- You model God’s love to the people around you. You see them differently and it shows.
As you begin to think about this idea of thinking with the mind of Christ, you realize that as you read scripture Jesus really is trying to help people do just that. There is one particular moment where Jesus is sitting down with tax collectors and sinners and of course the religious scholars and Pharisees are right there grumbling because they don’t like that he is hanging out with these types of people. Jesus sits down and tells a story about 2 brothers and their father. As you listen to this story you can almost hear Jesus saying, “Hey listen to me! Some of you are like the lost brother, some are like the older brother…and I am like the father in this story…please people…begin to think as I think! Please open your eyes to what I’m saying!” So here is the parable that he told that day.
Luke 15:11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’ 28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.'” NIV
There is so much going on here, but when you think of it in the context of Jesus trying to get those listening to think like Him and not like us…it begins to make a lot more sense doesn’t it? Remember when you think as Jesus thinks you stop keeping score, you aren’t comparing yourself to others anymore. So let’s take a look at the three characters in the story. I think we will start today with the older brother.
The Older Brother
I think a lot of us could identify with the older brother. There he is doing the right thing every day. He follows all the rules, he works hard for his father, this right here is a good man. The older brother represents all the good church people sitting around listening to Jesus tell the story, you know the ones who were upset with the fact that he was hanging out with sinners.
The older brother doesn’t think with the mind of Christ, he wants everything to be fair. He has done everything right, he has followed all the rules and he knows that he deserves more than this younger brother who ran off and acted so foolishly. You wouldn’t have ever run into anyone like this have you? No, especially not in a church setting right? You see when a person isn’t thinking with the mind of Christ all they see is all the good and bad things that they are doing. This older brother doesn’t look at the wounds and hurts of the younger brother, all he sees is an idiot that acted selfishly.
Too many Christians act this way. They aren’t thinking as Jesus thinks, you see someone thinking with the mind of Christ doesn’t see a grown man drunk in public and laugh, scoff or judge…they hurt for that man, and wonder what pain causes him to try to numb himself that much. A person with the mind of Christ doesn’t see the sin, they see the hurts and the busted up heart of the person standing there.
If you see the drunk man in public, or the prodigal son and you can’t see his wounds, hurts, and pain and all you can do is see what he selfishly did, you are not thinking like Jesus thinks. If you can’t picture how Jesus looks at that man, maybe place that person as your own child, and it will give you a hint. This is why so many have been busted up by church people. This is why so many people feel judgment and shame…it’s because as people we aren’t yet thinking as Jesus thinks…thank God he didn’t judge you and I the same way we can judge others right?
When you think with the mind of Christ, you no longer compare yourself to others. It’s now not about all you are doing and all they didn’t do. It’s no longer about what you are owed for all the nice things you have done. It’s not about what you have done or not done, or how much more you have done than someone else…it’s about resting in the knowledge that you are a son or daughter of the king…called to love the hurting people of this world. As the father told the older son in the parable…
Vs 31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.'”
As Jesus tells this story with the Pharisee’s and religious people sitting around I can almost hear him saying, what could happen when a group of people began to think like me?
The Younger Son
The prodigal doesn’t think like Jesus at all. He wants what he wants when he wants it! He takes his money and goes off and blows it all! He is living like many of us do isn’t he? He is living in the moment, and for many people they believe this is the fun way to live…well I think we could all admit that he had fun for a moment, but that fun didn’t lead him towards life did it? No, it actually led him towards starvation, and death. What’s really interesting is that he feels so like he messed up so bad that his father would never take him back in. He has made so many mistakes yet he knows now that he blew it. What he can’t understand is just how much his father loves him!
Vs 17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’
I have to say that many, many of us land here. We know we have messed up. We see all of our sin and what we haven’t done. We know we have sinned, and we just have no clue how much our God loves us. We want to work really hard to cover up all of our issues because we don’t feel worthy of God’s love, and the reality is that God loves you just as you are. He doesn’t love who you will be someday. He loves you. All of you, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Let me ask you something today-Can you rest in this amazing love? Can you even comprehend the fact that God loves you regardless of what you have done? This is why thinking as Christ thinks is such a big deal because let’s face it, you and I we can’t possibly grasp grace without help. We live in a world where everything has to be fair and it isn’t fair for me to get away with my issues is it? Yet God through Jesus has taken all of your sin from you. That means that much like this devastated young man sitting in the pig sty, wishing that he could eat the pig’s food…his father never stopped loving him, even when he thought that he was completely unworthy of his father’s love.
You see it’s important to think with the mind of Christ because when you do you can finally rest in God’s amazing grace, love, and acceptance. I am 37 years old, and still learning what it means to do that each and every day…to stand in the ridiculously awesome love of Jesus…and to just be ok being me.
The third character in this story that Jesus tells is the father. I told you that for many of us trying to wrap our minds around thinking the way Jesus thinks, we need to look at the relationship and love that you have for your child and I believe that you will catch a glimmer of how God loves us.
I think it is important for you to understand something about thinking with the mind of Christ. When you think this way, you will act differently. When you act differently you will feel people, and love people. You aren’t ranking people. You aren’t looking at who earned what. You aren’t looking at what is fair. You are looking at people through the eyes of your heart. Through the eyes of love, and this is a very different thing. You will be willing to engage people differently just as this man engages his children…and let’s face it both of these boys had to walk away wrestling with the way their father treated them.
So his youngest son has gone off and his dad is worried sick about him. The young man is eaten alive by the world. The young man has behaved selfishly. The young man has squandered the gifts that he has been given by his father. He is now returning to his father, beaten down, embarrassed, and starving to death…and how does his father react?
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.”
Then he goes off and throws the biggest party they have ever seen because his son has returned! Many Christians aren’t comfortable with this. They think this kid should have to feel the weight of his sin. They struggle with the idea that he has been let off the hook. Do you know why they struggle with this? It’s because they do not yet have the mind of Christ.
The father’s reaction is awesome for the younger son, but you know what…he shows the mind of Christ to his older son too. So the older boy has done the right thing each and every day. He has worked hard. He wasn’t off partying like his foolish younger brother…and he is wondering where his party is! Which quite honestly is a pretty human reaction don’t you think? He is angry, and he refuses to go into the party. Isn’t it interesting that just as the father went to the younger son, he now goes to the older son and loves on him as well.
’31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.'” NIV
The father thinks with the mind of Christ. He doesn’t turn his nose up to the young man, and he doesn’t ram all of his issues down his throat. He is not ranking him. He is not looking for him to make it all up to him…he is simply loving his son. He doesn’t roll his eyes with the older son and get impatient with him either does he? No, he goes to him and loves him and helps him see that as the father he is looking at the situation much, much differently.
If you think about it, how would both sons not walk away from this encounter with their father without a very different perspective on life? You see that is what happens when you model the love of Jesus to the people of this world. It rubs off on them. It is contagious. You see it isn’t enough to say you need to think with the mind of Christ, you need to show it to others…this is the way we make a huge difference in the world. We do it by showing people the love of Christ, a love that can only come when we are willing to drop our way of thinking and begin to think as Jesus thought.
Jesus doesn’t think of life as fair and unfair. He doesn’t look at what you have earned or not earned. He doesn’t care what you have done or not done. Because he doesn’t think like you and I think. Jesus was willing to lay down his life so that you and I could experience life. That isn’t a very typical thing to do as a person is it? Thank God that Jesus was not interested in things being fair because let’s be real here, he didn’t get what he deserved, he took what we deserved for us, so that we could fully live…how awesome is that.
Do you see what Jesus is doing through this story? He is sitting in a room full of sinners and tax collectors. He is also sitting in a room full of religious leaders and Pharisees…and he is begging them both to think the way He thinks.
It is so important to think with the mind of Christ because when you do you will be able to place others ahead of yourself. When you think with the mind of Christ you will no longer be comparing yourself to others and there will be no scoreboards in your life anymore. When you think with the mind of Christ you will stop worrying about what is fair, and you will live with an outlook of love. When you think with the mind of Christ, your actions will speak loudly and you will begin to make an impact on others around you, who will then go out into the world and make an impact on others. When you think with the mind of Christ you can make an enormous difference in your marriage, your family, your work place, and in your community. When you think with the mind of Christ, you can change the world.