Understanding the Misconceptions About Christ

Have the same mindset as Christ Jesus. Philippians 2:5, NIV


When an actor or actress plays the part of another person, he or she tries to get inside the skin of the person, to so saturate himself or herself with the thought processes of that person that he or she begins to think as the other person as well as to act and look like the other person, and—to the extent possible—to be that person. Can that really be done? Yes, say those who earn their living acting professionally.


Charlton Heston said that playing the person of Moses in the film The Ten Commandments greatly influenced his life personally. “Playing Moses,” he said, “marked my life.”   Preparing for that role he went to the Negev of Israel, and walked with the burning winds blowing sand in his face, and read what Moses wrote.   He tried to think as Moses thought and to feel what He felt.


When Paul wrote to the Philippians, he urged them to strive to do the same thing with Jesus Christ. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus. But actually the text can be translated, “Each of you should think the thoughts of Jesus Christ.”


Paul’s directive has been consuming my thoughts lately. He says that I should think the thoughts of Jesus. Right—just like that. My first reaction is, “How? Is that really possible?” When an actor wants to portray someone, he begins the way Charlton Heston did, by trying to learn everything there is about that person. If the individual is still living, he wants to talk to that person. If the one you have to portray is not living, if at all possible you would then want to talk to those who knew the individual personally, getting them to tell you as candidly as possible what the other person was like.


Does that principle work with thinking as Jesus thought—with trying to see life from His perspective? Yes, it does. There is one thing for sure–getting to know Jesus as He really was, not as history or even the church has portrayed Him, requires peeling away some of our misconceptions and stereotypes.


Author Philip Yancey faced that challenge when he was preparing to write his book, The Jesus I Never Knew, which simply by its title suggests that the real Jesus is much different from the one artists have painted and the one which we learned about in church.   Unlike a lot of the books that supposedly demythologize Jesus, Yancey’s book is outstanding. I’ve read it and reread it.


Before he started writing, Yancey read a lot about Jesus Christ, but his real encounter came through two primary sources: reading the book itself, the Bible, and studying the films about Jesus Christ which have been produced in recent years.


There is one thing for sure, thinking the thoughts of Jesus Christ is bound to revolutionize your life, for His thinking was so different from mine, and from yours, too, I suspect. I quickly realized that His perspective was different from mine. His attitudes and values were different. Even His boundaries were different.


I peer into the dim, misty future which seems to be so uncertain and obscure. But His vision pierced the gloom. He knew that heaven was a reality. He had been there. He knew where He was going. What I have—what I can put my hands on materially—seems to be important in my life. Yes, I know it should not, yet bills have to be paid, and bread on the table is my responsibility.


Ah, may God give us the thoughts of Jesus. For then, life will be different.


Resource reading: Philippians 2:1-11.