Recently I watched a movie entitled “Saint Paul” on a Christian network. It’s a difficult task to dramatize the story and nuances of Paul’s life and ministry in 2-3 hours. But the majority of the first half was dedicated to depicting the background and early life of Paul. His zealousness to do God’s “bidding” as a Jewish leader was extraordinary. He was willing to punish, imprison, torture, and even kill the Jesus followers all in the name of preserving the Law and traditions of Moses and the Jewish way of life. He wore his religious pride on his sleeve like a badge of honor. But while on his way to Damascus he was surprised by the glorious light of the Christ, Jesus of Nazareth. As he lay on the ground, he heard a voice ask, “Saul! Saul! Why are your persecuting me?
Jesus once said that if you’ve done it to the least of these then you’ve done it unto me. Jesus was showing Saul ‘that if you persecute people who trust and follow me then you are persecuting me’. Saul’s attitude toward people of “The Way” was really his attitude toward Jesus.
The conversion of Saul isn’t nearly as effective without knowing the background of his attitude toward his customs and beliefs and his willingness to stamp out this heretical teaching of Jesus the Christ. Paul’s zealous attitude toward this new teaching was the same intense attitude he took after his conversion. Only now it was to propagate the very message he intensely persecuted previously. Saul had inflicted great pain upon Jesus’ followers. But now, as a follower himself, he was being the recipient of much pain and persecution. Although we could reason he had every right to pity himself and demand his rights, he took the attitude of his new Master. Paul, writing from prison, tells the believers at Philippi to take the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus. And what was that attitude? Even though He was God, He didn’t demand and cling to His rights as God. He made Himself nothing, (Jesus laid aside His might and power and glory…) and took the humble position of a slave and appeared in human form. And in human form He obediently humbled Himself even further by dying a criminal’s death on a cross (Phil. 2:5-8). That’s what Jesus did!
What can we do to take on this same attitude? Paul explained it just a few verses prior to these. 1. Don’t be selfish. 2. Don’t live to make a good impression on others. 3. Be humble, think of others as better than yourself. 4. Don’t think only about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too and what they are doing. If you hadn’t been able to discern by now what Jesus and Paul were both talking about, it’s the fact that followers of Christ must have an attitude change from modern-social-thinking to eternal-Jesus-doing.
For any change to take place, one must review the purpose in changing. To please the Father we must become like the Son. To become like the Son we must think and do like Him. When Jesus took on the attitude of pleasing His Father, the Father rewarded Him by raising Him up to the heights of the heaven and gave Him a name that is above every other name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord! Attitude is everything!