Followers of Jesus initially called themselves “the Way” (Acts 9:2; 19:9, 23; 24:14, 22). When the gospel came to Antioch, some people began to refer to them as Christians (Acts 11:26). The label signified that they belonged to the group associated with Jesus Christ. Eventually, the believers adopted it themselves. Today, followers of Jesus still call themselves Christians.
When we claim this title, we are doing more than identifying with a group or a church. We are identifying with Jesus. According to verse 5, it’s our way of thinking that produces a way of being. We are to have “the same mindset as Christ.” How do we do this? Paul identifies three characteristics. First, we should remember the love, fellowship, tenderness, and compassion we experienced from Christ (v. 1). Second, we acknowledge what Jesus has done both for and in us (vv. 6–11). We must understand the gospel and its implications. Third, we begin to have the mind of Christ when we follow Jesus into His way of life (vv. 2–4).
The order is important here. We must know and experience Jesus before we can imitate Him. No doubt this is why Paul spends the bulk of these verses describing the nature of Christ’s work. At its heart, we see a series of actions where Christ “made himself nothing” (v. 7). Theologians have written volumes about this phrase. But Paul explains what he means by it in the verses that follow. Jesus made Himself nothing by taking on human nature and humbling Himself to the point of death on the cross (vv. 7–8). Because He did this, “God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name” (v. 9).
>> The path that Jesus took is also the path of the Christian’s life. We do not imitate Christ so that we can be saved but because we were saved by Jesus who “made Himself nothing.”
Our identity is in You alone, Lord. Before we identify as complementarian or egalitarian, or by any other doctrinal or denominational distinctive, remind us that all things are subordinate to being one with You.