Jesus gave vivid images in Matthew 25 to describe what he expects of his followers in between his ascension and his return: We are to have the mind and heart of God in everything we do. We are to care passionately about the things God cares about and we are to act on those passions.
Paul wrote regularly about the need to have the mind and heart of God. In Philippians he wrote,
Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, … (Philippians 2:5)
And in Romans he wrote,
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God -- what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2)
There is a need for personal transformation and we are to invite others to be transformed. Yet if we stop here, we stop short of God’s mission for the church.
Jesus calls us to be communities of disciples. It is not only our personal witness that tells of Jesus but also how we live with others in community. When Jesus was praying with his disciples on the night he was betrayed, he prayed.
….18 As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them [his disciples] into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.
20 I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. ….(John 17:18-24) (my emphasis)
Just as there is an organic unity in the trinity, Jesus describes an organic unity of within the church and with the church to the trinune God. Paul’s imagery of Christ as the head and the church as the body at the end of Ephesians 1 is restatement of this organic unity (and yes, I think Paul was the author.)
Unity, however, is not uniformity. I quoted Romans 12:2 above, but the passage also makes clear that transformation is not just of an individual into a new individual but of an individuals into a diverse communities. Using the “body” metaphor, Paul writes:
1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God -- what is good and acceptable and perfect.
3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 4 For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, 5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. 6 We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; 7 ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; 8 the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness. (Romans 12:1-8)
Similarly, as Paul began his discussion of individual “gifts” in 1 Corinthians 12, he wrote:
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. (1 Corinthians 12:11)
He wraps us his discussion reminding the Corinthians:
Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. (1 Corinthian 12:27)
From here Paul turned to 1 Corinthians 13 where he lifted up love as the core of church community, grounded in Christ. Having the heart and mind of God, being transformed, and being in community are all inseparably related.
Transformation is not our own doing. It is the Spirit of God working in us. Jesus said in John 14 that he would send the Holy Spirit after his departure. At Pentecost, described in Acts 2, the Spirit came and people form many nations heard the gospel in their own language. Humanity had united in defiance of God at Babel and sought to build a tower up to God. God confused and dispersed them. At Pentecost, God undid Babel at Jerushalom. God gathered the people, descended to them in the form of the Holy Spirit, caused everyone to hear the good news in their own language, and united them in God.
From that day forward the Church would be God’s Eikon to the world, Jew and Gentile alike, made up of many individual eikons gathered in organic communities, all with the mind and heart of God.