Nativity of the Theotokos
“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus”

Why do we err? Why do we sin? Because we don’t have the mind of Christ at that moment.
Philippians 2:5-11
Sep 8/21

 


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


Sometimes in the Services, you just have a moment of clarity, and something touches you. Don’t you just wait for those moments - those times when it just seems that you understand? I do. It’s only for a moment. You feel the mercy of God so present. You feel God so close to you. You feel so much the desire to do good, and you feel that hope springing up within your breast that you can.

 

I hope that you have these moments. I hope that you pray to God, when you come to the services, that God will enlighten you, and you will come away better than when you came. We don’t come just to worship God; we come to be fed, to be helped, to be healed. And there’s great Grace present in all of the services, whatever they are.


A moment came for me when the Epistle from the Nativity of the Theotokos was being read. It is about the Incarnation. This makes sense; the Theotokos is always associated with the Incarnation.


“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.”

 

That’s enough right there. If we live our life according to what the Apostle said, we will be saved. That’s the totality of the Gospel, just as the greatest Commandment is the totality of the Law. So one could say, that the Epistle read here is all we need to know to save our souls, to have the mind of Christ.

 

The Church has the mind of Christ, and we are part of the Church. If we have the mind of Christ, then we have all wisdom, all holiness; nothing would confuse us. We would always choose the right way, because Christ always chose the right way.


I was recently speaking about something to someone and saying that the scripture, and the services for that matter as well, have many phrases in them that could be, as it were, a mnemonic device, a memory aid for us. These phrases are not always something to be put on a flash card that we’d memorize but something that is in our heart, deeply in our heart, and that motivates us. This could be one of those things.

 

There’s all kind of silly and stupid things that happen daily. And we participate in these things: things that don’t matter, things that go away, almost as soon as we are concerned about them and they are gone.

 

Why do we err? Why do we sin? Because we don’t have the mind of Christ at that moment.


If we cultivated this “mind” at all moments in our life, we would not sin. The man who knows Christ intimately would never sin, ever. He would never be confused, would never be despondent, never be angry. Christ did none of those things, because He was always with a mind towards obeying His Father. He always knew what the right thing to do was. He always valued the right thing.

Look at us; we value things that go away, every day, things that just don’t matter. How much time do we waste: reading things that don’t matter, talking about things that don’t matter, being all angry and upset about things that don’t matter?


Only one thing matters: To know Jesus Christ. That’s all.

 

The only thing in your life that is important is who you are becoming. What kind of person are you? You were born for greatness. You were born to know God, to become holy, to become all, as the Scriptures say or as the Services say, “All eye,”[1] like the Angels. That’s what we were born for.

And what do we spend our time with? Silly things. Sinful things. But what if we always evaluated everything that we are going to do, whether it be getting on a bus or going to work or cutting the lawn or fixing dinner? Or whatever it is in our daily lives. If everything was evaluated by: Do we have the mind of Christ at this moment? Would we sin if the mind of Christ was in us richly? No.

 

So when you’re presented with some situation, is the mind of Christ in you? If it is, then you will not sin. And to the extent that it isn’t, then that’s when we fall into these sins. All pettiness in our lives, foolishness about what we want, things that upset us, bad habits and our daily life style - all of is it going away. The only thing that will be left is what we become - so that when in the end, the Lord will see us, He will know us, and recognize us, He will look at us, and we will have the likeness of God, the image of God within us.[2]

 

Otherwise, He will look at us and say, I don’t know you. And those that are confused will say, Lord, when did I not help you? When did I see you hungry and not feed you or naked and did not clothe you or sick or in prison?[3] And the Lord will tell them.

Well, it’s not just that we should help everyone, the least of these. Yes, that is the application of having the mind of Christ within you. That’s the result of having the mind of Christ within you. That’s not the goal of life, to help all people. That’s the result of our goal: To have the mind of Christ in us.

How much would we be saved from sin if we took the Apostle seriously here? If we fully understood what Christ did for us, oh, yes, we can recount it, we can say, yes, the prophets proclaimed Him. And we could even talk about this parable which is really about the Incarnation and the Jews’ rejection of Christ and the bringing in of the Gentiles. All beautiful, exalted theological ideas.


We could say that Jesus Christ became Man through the Theotokos and lived and showed us how to live and died on the cross and went to hell and preached to those in Hades and rose from the dead, making us capable of breaking the bonds of death. Yes, that’s all true and I hope you know it. But do you feel it? Is it uppermost in your mind when you are doing something - especially when you are considering something that’s sinful or foolish or a time waster?


So we must emulate what He did. Examples are much more powerful than expressions of teaching. You can say to someone how to live, but if you show them how to live, then they will learn. Well, Christ showed us, in ways that words cannot express. But the mind can know.


Here is what to do the next time you are presented with something that is foolish or a time waster or petty -- and that will be probably within the next ten minutes, right? Because we are always getting upset about the silliest things, that someone crosses in front of us or that a baby cries or that we are hungry or that whatever it is. Foolishness, silliness, unfruitfulness. The next time that you’re presented with such a thought, evaluate it: Is it the mind of Christ or not? What did Christ do for you? Since He did so much for us, can’t we do a little for Him? If we think this way, then we will be saved.


“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 Himself 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 on the cross.”


Let’s remember this. Not just such that we remember it as facts, but that it lives in our heart. Amen.

 

 

Philippians 2:5-11 5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

 

 

Priest Seraphim Holland 2008    

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[1] And their whole body, and their backs, and their hands, and their wings, and the wheels, were full of eyes round about, even the wheels that they four had. (Ezekiel 10:12 , describing the cherubim)

 

[2] I had in mind here: “His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” (Mat 25:21) , from the parable of the talents, and “But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.” (Mat 25:12). Both verses describe the encounter of the soul with God at the judgment.

 

[3] See Matthew 23:31-66, read on the Sunday of the Last Judgment. Homilies here: http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/index.html#Sunday_of_the_Last_Judgment_(Meatfare)

 

 

 

 





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