Historical Sermon: The Mind of Christ

For years I had heard about a sermon preached by John Scott for the Church of Christ at White Station in Memphis. The sermon, entitled “The Mind of Christ” was preached on April 14, 1968. To put that in its historical context, remember that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis just days earlier on April 4.

This week I ran across the sermon in written form on the website of The Church of Christ at White Station. I encourage you to click the link and take time to read this historical sermon, The Mind of Christ.

Sermons on social justice are almost trendy now, but I have to believe that was not the case in 1968. But that did not prevent Scott from delivering this sermon. Scott was not afraid to boldly address the treatment of those belonging to the Negro race in general and garbage collectors in particular. The sermon seeks to apply the mind and teachings of Jesus to a community torn apart by racial polarization, a strike, an assassination, and the ensuing riots.

Thank God for the boldness of John Scott.

Victim Treats Mugger

NPR recently had a story about the mugging of a 31 year old social worker named Julio Diaz.

You won’t believe how the story unfolds.

You can read the story or listen to it by following this link.


“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”
Jesus in Matthew 5:38-42

Learning to Yield

“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no partiality and is always sincere” (James 3:17).

A couple of years ago Lourene and I had the opportunity to visit a mega church in Southern California. When the assembly was over we spent some time looking around the campus before heading to one of our favorite restaurants, The Claim Jumper. As we supposed, many in the huge crowd at the mega church had the same meal plan.

By the time we arrived at The Claim Jumper (if you are ever near a Claim Jumper location, check it out), the hostess told us the wait would be over an hour. That was no problem, we knew it would be worth the wait. People were standing everywhere while waiting to be seated at a table. Many of them, like us, had just been in a worship gathering that was centered on being like Jesus.

For a while Lourene and I were in our own world of conversation, processing what we had experienced at the mega church. It was an interesting assembly, so very different from what we were accustomed. The assembly featured two songs, one brief prayer, and a 57 minute sermon (yes, I admit, I timed it). They even experienced a technical glitch with their state of the art projection system. After we shared our initial thoughts on the assembly, we then turned to discussing what those initial thoughts revealed about our hearts. The conversation was deep, the minutes were ticking.

When we finally paused the conversation long enough for me to glance at my watch, we realized we had been waiting for one hour and 10 minutes. It seemed there were still a number of parties who arrived before us who were yet to be seated. We had a while longer to wait, but we didn’t care. It was then that I became aware of a family next to us. They, too, had been at the mega church and had arrived just before us. They, too, had a while longer to wait. They cared.

To say they had grown impatient with the wait would be an understatement. They were beyond impatient, they were becoming angry. Members of the party took turns going to the hostess stand to ask, “How much longer?” They rolled their eyes at the young teenager who assured them it wouldn’t be much longer. They sighed. They grumbled. They pressured the hostess. And then a woman in the party said something I remember to this day: “I’m about to lose my church mood!”

When I heard those words, I confess, I laughed out loud. My church mood. What’s a church mood? Is this what church is about – a mood? And what good is a church mood if it can vanish while waiting in line at a restaurant where you know you are going to have a delicious meal prepared for you and served to you? Can we ever expect our Christianity to survive a season of persecution if we can’t even endure a wait at Claim Jumper?

Well it wasn’t long until Lourene and I were seated and the conversation turned to the woman and her church mood. But I have to tell you, we didn’t spend our time bashing her. Lourene and I spent most of our time discussing how I had recognized myself in that woman. I think that’s why I laughed out loud. I wasn’t laughing at her as much as I was laughing at me. How can I sometimes be so impatient? Why do I sometimes fail to practice what I have preached?

The discussion turned to real life changes that I (and to a lesser extent, Lourene, too) need to make regarding patience. As we enjoyed a delightful meal (have I told you how good Claim Jumper is?) we remembered the passage in James 3 about heavenly wisdom. One line seemed especially meaningful – “willing to yield to others.”

How do we become more patient? Training. Exercise. You have to practice doing things to develop patience. Perhaps the best way to begin the training is to choose situations in which you are going to yield to others. Exercise one may be yielding to other drivers by allowing cars to merge in front of you when in a parking lot or on the road. Exercise two could be yielding to shoppers when they are racing to beat you to the check out line. Perhaps we could even allow someone who looks hurried to cut in front of us. Exercise three might be yielding to others in conversation, allowing them plenty of time to say what they want to say before offering a response. Exercise four probably needs to be some act of yielding in a restaurant line, whether letting someone go ahead of you or consciously maintaining your composure when the seating time (or the food) is delayed.

We need the exercise, after all, we don’t want to lose our church mood, do we?

On Fighting Monsters

“Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster.” Friedrich Nietzsche, from Beyond Good and Evil

Have you ever become what you hate? You know, when you see something wrong, some injustice, some way in which people are treating others unfairly and you just want to react furiously to that injustice?

The struggle for me is to, in reacting to the monsters of unfairness, injustice, even slander to end up becoming what I hate; that is, I become just like what I am condemning. In fighting monsters, I often end up becoming one myself.

If you are like me in this way, perhaps you could benefit from spending time praying through the following Bible passages. And as we pray we can take time to confess, repent, and ask for strength to overcome and be more like Jesus.

Matthew 5:38-42 NLT
“You have heard that the law of Moses says, ‘If an eye is injured, injure the eye of the person who did it. If a tooth gets knocked out, knock out the tooth of the person who did it.’ But I say, don’t resist an evil person! If you are slapped on the right cheek, turn the other, too. If you are ordered to court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too. If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles. Give to those who ask, and don’t turn away from those who want to borrow.”

Romans 12:14-21 NIV
“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. On the contrary: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

May God protect us from ourselves. May He keep us from becoming monsters!

Consideration

“Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers” (1 Peter 3:7).

The Pennsylvania State Police recently responded to an emergency call from a motorist. A woman in the vehicle was in labor near the Green Tree exit of Parkway West in Pittsburgh. By the time police arrived a baby girl already had been delivered. Beth Gardner, the mother, was no doubt thankful for the police who responded and for her two neighbors who were driving her to the hospital and stopped the car to deliver the baby.

Is it just me or is something missing in this story? Let’s see, we have the mother, the neighbors, the police and the baby. . . .

What’s missing?

Who’s missing?

Where’s the father?

Was he deployed in Iraq? No. Was he working deep in a coal mine? No. Maybe he was putting in overtime at a steel factory so the family would have food on the table? No.

He was watching the Pittsburgh Steelers football game — the all important preseason match-up.

I don’t know about you, but the first word that pops into my mind is an inappropriate, demeaning name questioning the father’s intelligence. How in the world could this guy miss the birth of his daughter to watch a football game? How inconsiderate can you get?

But before I heap judgment on the absentee father I need to remember two things. First, there may be more to the story than has been reported thus far (I can hear the cynics sarcastically saying, “Yeah, maybe the game was in overtime!”). Maybe there is more to it than what we are hearing.

And second, while I would never have missed the birth of a child for a ballgame, I have done some pretty inconsiderate things to my wife.

The language of this text – consideration, respect, and co-heirs – grabs attention and demands action. How serious is this matter of consideration? Peter says my prayers depend on it. That serious.

*based on a report from KDKA, September 1, 2006