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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Lent 6 Palm Sunday: Get an Attitude


Many today speak of “attitude.” When they say, “so and so has such an attitude” it is generally meant derogatorily.  When they say, “So and so has attitude” – it implies a compliment.


And so in the news this week, a high profile lawyer has been described as having an attitude which many find offensive, but a South African fast bowler has been described as having attitude which seems to compliment his performance. 

Some people today speak of “tude.”  So and so has “tude.”  Sometimes parents say to children, “You better lose that attitude and quickly.”  It seems that your attitude determines how you behave and how others perceive you.  What, if any, attitude are Christians called to have?

Did Christ have “an attitude”, did He have “attitude” – did He have “tude”?
Yes, according to the Apostle Paul in Philippians 2:5, and you & I says Paul, are to have the same one. 

The attitude you should have is the one that Christ Jesus had:
 – that’s the text before us today.  So the question I want to lay before you today, the beginning of Holy Week is: “What’s your attitude?” and perhaps add to that by asking: "Is a change of attitude required?"
I want to suggest, with Paul, that our attitude needs to be the attitude which Christ Jesus had and then explore that attitude and see how it applies to us.
One’s attitude flows from what one thinks of oneself, what one knows about oneself.

 He always had the nature of God,
    but he did not think that by force he should try to remain equal with God.
Jesus knew who He was.  He knew Himself.  This verse describes the status of Christ before the creation of the world and before His incarnation and, with other verses is one that we base our understanding of the Trinity on.  He was (is) one with God, equal with God.

The world would on different occasions say:... He was just a carpenter,.... He’s from Nazareth (what good thing ever came from there?)......  He drives out demons because He is a demon Himself. .... He’s the Messiah who will free us from the Romans and restore Israel’s greatness. These were all things that the people around Jesus thought of Him at different times of His ministry. 
But He didn't let what the world thought of Him, affect what He thought and knew of Himself. 
Your attitude should be the same – think of yourself the way God thinks of you.  That is who you really are. So, here is some truth you and I might need to hear today: In Christ you are loved, forgiven, cleansed, and in terms of our sin, which Scripture says is like scarlet, we are whiter than snow. This is all truth for those who are in Christ.  When we remember who we really are, then,...... we begin to behave like who we really are.

So,  He always had the nature of God, He knew exactly who He was,
    but he did not think that by force he should try to remain equal with God.
 Instead of this, of his own free will he gave up all he had,

 “Of His own free will.” – What Jesus did, He did freely.  He did it because He wanted to.  Oh, if only there were more of that attitude in the world – doing good things because we want to, rather than because we feel we have to.  In Revelation 13:8 and 1 Peter 1:20 we are taught that before the foundation of the world, the Lamb of God was slain.  The Trinity knew before they made the world that they might have to save the world and that that salvation would be costly to them.  The Cross was never a last minute solution; but rather a distinct possibility from the very beginning, and the potential cost did not deter the Creator, and having counted the cost, they still created.  You and I should have the same attitude – the cost of discipleship should not deter us from beginning the walk of faith, nor stop us in the face of adversity.

Instead of this, of his own free will he gave up all he had,
    and took the nature of a servant.

The attitude of servanthood – Christ had it, (in fact, “service delivery was His top priority) Christ had it...... You and I should have it too.  Serve God, serve others, and don’t worry about serving self. Would anyone disagree that we need a ruling party that is also a serving party? But it starts with you and I having the attitude that Christ had.  
Still in verse 7 – “He gave up all He had.”  This in particular refers to His power as God the Son.  
POWER.  
He would save others – but not Himself..........that’s power.
He would heal others – but not Himself......that’s power.
He could call a squadron of angels – but He didn't..........that’s power.
He could get even – but He didn't..................that’s power.
You might remember that this is what  Christian meekness is – controlled power – and it brings a great blessing – not only to individuals but to families and to nations. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit..... the earth!  Christ’s attitude was that there is enough saving self and getting even in this world.....He wasn't going to add to those things.....and we Christians needn't add to the self interest and getting even that fills our world, nation, homes, churches.  Our attitude should be the attitude Christ had. 

 He was humble and walked the path of obedience all the way to death—
    his death on the cross.

Humility leads to obedience……and obedience cultivates humility.  They are two sides of the same coin.  
If you struggle with obedience, I want to suggest it is because you are not humble – submission to others is not an attitude that is at home in your mind.
If you struggle with humility, I want to suggest that it is because you are not obedient – submission to God’s will is not an attitude that is at home in your mind.

They are two sides of the same coin, so sometimes you see one more than the other, but they balance each other.  The humble/obedient Jesus is the one who on one occasion will need to look people in the eye and say, “You hypocrites......you white-washed tombs” and on another occasion will stand before the biggest hypocrite of them all.....and say nothing. Humility and obedience, two sides of the same coin, but sometimes they lead to what seem like opposite attitudes.
The humble/obedient Jesus will on one occasion stand up in the Temple and say: "Come to me all you who are thirsty"....and on another occasion in that same Temple, will turn over tables and shout, “Get out.” Humility and obedience, two sides of the same coin, but sometimes they lead to what seem like opposite attitudes.

You and I should have the same attitude as Christ – be humble, walk obediently and it will lead to greater humility leading to greater obedience and so on and so on, even unto death.

The attitude you should have is the one that Christ Jesus had:

Is this possible for us “mere humans?”  Did any “mere humans” (other than Christ) have this attitude?  Many "mere humans" have displayed this attitude through the ages,....we see this truth in the Bible, in history, in this Church today. But let’s just look at the Bible.  In the Old Testament reading set for Palm Sunday, the prophet Isaiah speaks of “a suffering servant” and it is unclear as you read Isaiah who this suffering servant is.  Of course, as with much of the Old Testament, we see Christ fulfilling our understanding – so He certainly identifies with the suffering servant of Isaiah (just as on the Cross He will identify with David who once cried out “My God…my God, why have you forsaken me?”) but it is incorrect to assume that these verses only refer prophetically to Jesus.  Jewish scholars do not see them that way – they like we, believe they refer to someone that Isaiah knew and wrote about, perhaps Isaiah himself or a king who was tortured by Nebuchadnezzer and thereby suffered for the whole nation – having his eyes poked out and being mocked by the Babylonians. Isaiah writes these words of  someone he and the people of his time, knew:
The Sovereign Lord has taught me what to say,
    so that I can strengthen the weary.
Every morning he makes me eager
    to hear what he is going to teach me.
 The Lord has given me understanding,
    and I have not rebelled
    or turned away from him.
 I bared my back to those who beat me.
    I did not stop them when they insulted me,
    when they pulled out the hairs of my beard
    and spit in my face.
We see the attitude that Christ would have in 30 AD, in this person of 500 BC.  We very often see the attitude of Christ in King David, don’t we, as well as the attitude of a sinful man.  Also in Noah, Abraham, Joseph.  We see the attitude of Christ in Elijah, who James describes as a person as a person who was just like you and me. So yes, it is possible for us "mere humans, to have the attitude that Jesus had, otherwise Scripture would never say: 

The attitude you should have is the one that Christ Jesus had:

Scripture never makes impossible demands on us – and this certainly seems to be a demand placed on us – a command placed before us, namely  “Have this attitude” 

What attitude do you have?
Is it time for a change in attitude?
Attitude is something you choose.  Don’t let the world tell you what your attitude should be; let Christ tell you what your attitude should be.

Get an attitude....and let it be the attitude Christ had.

In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

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