GOD’S DUSTMAN RESCUES US BY GIVING AWAY EVERYTHING
Imitating Christ’s Humility
2 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
Do Everything Without Grumbling
12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,
Once upon a time....... there were two children, a rich prince and a poor pauper.
Thus begins a children’s story about the differences between privileged wealth with all its comforts, and stark poverty where brutality, hunger and cold are there every day.
The story ends sentimentally, with the prince becoming king - that was after he changed places with the pauper boy and had a long time of experiencing the brutality, hunger and cold. And at the same time the pauper boy grew to love his new existence as prince! - and, back in his palace as king, the prince invited the pauper boy and his mother (NOT the brutal father) to live in the palace with him. It reminds me a bit about this passage from Philippians. Paul talks not of Jesus swapping lives with us, but of him voluntarily giving up his divine existence to live in our human one. Paul writes of this to the young church in Philippi because he was so concerned by their behaviour. Ambition for what they wanted regardless of others’ wishes, and the desire for personal prestige were tearing their church apart. To change their self-centredness, and direct them to look once more to God, Paul reminds them what Jesus did for them:
Jesus was essentially and unchangeably God;
He gave up everything to become human for a time -
he who was rich, for our sakes became poor.
He became the lowliest of the low - a slave.
He died the cruellest, lowliest death possible - crucifixion.
So that he could rescue us and bring us back to God.
In these few verses,
Paul gives us enough to think about for the whole of Lent!
Jesus experienced brutality, hunger, and cold - and betrayal by those closest to him.
He chose to do this, all out of love for humanity,
And the longing to bring us back to God.
He does not want us to be beaten into submission,
But to respond to his love.
“Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life my all.”
Today let us think of that love when we can...
Let us allow our amazement to grow,
And let us offer our gratitude to God.