In today’s reading, Paul points to Jesus as he brings his thoughts on personal piety to a close. This focus on Jesus moves in two directions. First, Paul prays that God would grant the Roman Christians the same “attitude of mind” that Jesus had. In particular, he is referring to Jesus’ commitment to the good of others. As verse 3 explains, “…even Christ did not please himself…” Second, Paul calls the Romans to adopt Jesus’ treatment of another. Jesus, their Lord and Savior, has accepted them. They should therefore accept one another, complete with their differences of opinion and faith practice.
These two directives – mimic Jesus’ attitude of service and treat others as Jesus has treated them – are helpful for Christians of any time or place. Imagine a community whose members are committed to serving one another and treating one another as people for whom Christ died. It is so important for us to realize that the harmonious existence in this picture isn’t just an exercise in imagination. No, this harmony is meant to exist in Christ’s community. It is meant to exist in the church.
Of course, churches don’t always reflect the service and treatment of Jesus. This truth is actually why a good deal of the New Testament was written. Even here in Romans, as Paul outlines these harmonious directives, he does so because the Christians in Rome weren’t getting along. Harmony isn’t automatic. That’s why Paul asks God to give the Roman Christians the self-giving attitude of Jesus. And, it’s why he tells the Roman Christians to accept one another. Something beautiful happens when the obedience of the believer mingles with the work of God. Miraculously, we become the people God intends for us to be.
May God grant us Christ’s attitude of mind. And may we obey the call to love one another.