“Walking by faith, let us do good works. In these let there be a free love of God for His own sake and an active love for our neighbor. For there is nothing we can do for God. But because we have something we can do for our neighbor, we shall by our good offices to the needy gain the favor of Him Who is the source of all abundance. Let us then do what we can for others; let us freely bestow upon the needy out of our abundance.”
— St. Augustine, p. 144
AN EXCERPT FROM, Augustine Day by Day
If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, (Phil. 2:1-5 NRS)
Seeking to develop the mind of Christ is the main focus of Orthodox Christian spirituality. As one can see from the verse from Philippians, this focus is a process of growth formed in purpose and practice. It is an activity of life, a way of life that requires frequent attentions towards one’s wants and desires. These attentions should be comparative of the life we life with that of Jesus.
In order to accomplish this, we need to make the reading of the Gospels a very important part of our activity, our daily activity. We should read for insights into behaviors, reactions, responses and of course the attitude that Jesus exhibits.
Next, we should pray as Jesus prayed. We, like he, spend time alone with God. This time alone is not just to give God our requests (hint: God knows before we ask) but give God the time in silence and in openness to the Holy Spirit. The eastern church is much more apophatic than the west. They understand that to follow Jesus we must decrease so he may increase. This goes completely against our current, self-focus, cultural orientation. But, as Augustine brings out, this is what we need to do. This is what Paul brings out in the above passage. We must in humility regard others, to their interests, as more important than our own.
These are things not understood in a short blog, but in a spiritual search that begins with a simple, complicated, easy, hard paradox of an orientation, to seek the mind of Christ.