When St. Paul asks us to “put on the mind of Christ” he has much more in mind than mouthing Jesus’ words. I believe he is asking us to look at our attitudes and actions.
Walking the talk
One of the common critiques leveled at present-day Christianity is that it’s a religion full of hypocritical people. A recent Barna Group study explores how well Christians seem to emulate the attitudes and actions of Jesus in my thoughts and actions.
The research project was developed in conjunction with John Burke, author of Mud and the Masterpiece. His book explores the attitudes and actions of Jesus in all of his encounters recorded in the New Testament. Their intent was to create some new discussion about the intangible aspects of following and representing Jesus.
Kinnaman, president of Barna Group, commented.
“Obviously, survey research, by itself, cannot fully measure someone’s ‘Christ-likeness’ or ‘Pharisee-likeness.’ But the study is meant to identify baseline qualities of Jesus, like empathy, love, and a desire to share faith with others—or the resistance to such ideals in the form of self-focused hypocrisy. The statements are based on the biblical record given in the Gospels and in the Epistles and our team worked closely with a leading pastor, John Burke, to develop the survey questions.”
At first, I simply read the statements. Then I got personal. I thought in terms of “That’s me”, “That is me sometimes” or “That is not me”.
With that in mind, how would you respond?
Actions like Jesus:
- I listen to others to learn their story before telling them about my faith.
- In recent years, I have influenced multiple people to consider following Christ.
- I regularly choose to have meals with people with very different faith or morals from me.
- I try to discover the needs of non-Christians rather than waiting for them to come to me.
- I am personally spending time with non-believers to help them follow Jesus.
Attitudes like Jesus:
- I see God-given value in every person, regardless of their past or present condition.
- I believe God is for everyone.
- I see God working in people’s lives, even when they are not following him.
- It is more important to help people know God is for them than to make sure they know they are sinners.
- I feel compassion for people who are not following God and doing immoral things.
- I tell others the most important thing in my life is following God’s rules.
- I don’t talk about my sins or struggles. That’s between me and God.
- I try to avoid spending time with people who are openly gay or lesbian.
- I like to point out those who do not have the right theology or doctrine.
- I prefer to serve people who attend my church rather than those outside the church.
- I find it hard to be friends with people who seem to constantly do the wrong things.
- It’s not my responsibility to help people who won’t help themselves.
- I feel grateful to be a Christian when I see other people’s failures and flaws.
- I believe we should stand against those who are opposed to Christian values.
- People who follow God’s rules are better than those who do not.
Recognizing the limitations of such questions it is still interesting to ask…
• Christ-like in action and attitude?
• Christ-like in action, but not in attitude?
• Christ-like in attitude, but not action?
• Christ-like in neither?
Click below for an audio version of this Vincentian Mindwalk