I heard a deep sermon recently about one of my favorite passages in Scripture, one that I had no idea has been called, “the Philippian hymn”, out of Phil. 2:5-11. I LOVE how God’s Word continues to surprise me to no end. Here’s a positive way to see someone going in a downward spiral:
Jesus was on a *downward journey*. He begins at the highest of the highs. He steps down and makes himself nothing (v.7) As humans, we have a tendency to use a position of power or authority and use it for our own good. We put others down to make ourselves look good and feel better. Yet few use it for the benefit of others. I love it how Jesus doesn’t cease being God, He simply chooses not to use His divine right, and walks in the flesh, and conquers it.
So then he places Himself into the position of least influence. Born out of wedlock to a young girl engaged to a man who’s thinking of leaving her. Can you imagine the neighbors talking? But His journey of obedience pays off. His humiliation to the point of death, and death on a cross no less, brings about His exultation.
We love to get to the point of His *exultation*- big word, huh? We fix our eyes on that prize. Yet the dirty journey is where this glory is found. Jesus descends into greatness. It’s not a cosmic reward package with balloons and fireworks and warm/fuzzy feelings. It’s kind of messy, painful, frustrating, sad, humiliating (he hung naked on the cross people, we don’t see that in the movies…), heart-breaking, friends leave him, friends betray him, his own half-brothers doubt Him.
On another wavelength…what if we took Jesus’ words seriously? I think the preacher said Shane Claiborne stated this in his Irresistible Revolution book. What if we really sold everything and gave it to the poor? What if we go to people who are forgotten & others think they’re insignificant? What if we give up our right to *positions* and actually hang out with broken people? What if we leave our desks behind and walk in a revolutionary way? (Revolutionaries do not lead from behind a desk, Erwin McMannus).
My friend Amos went out into the streets today. He asked a man smoking a joint what he would look for in a church. The guy said something about feeling welcomed right where he’s at. And as he smoked his joint, he said something about someone needing to do something about these young kids getting into trouble. He takes a puff. Ha! nice.
Back to Jesus. Empty yourself of your right to be right. Humble yourself like Jesus. Take on this attitude. Do what He says. Walk to actually match what you say you believe. Become last. Actually serve. Rejoice when you are forgotten and another gets the recognition. Rejoice when you don’t respond in the flesh. Do not cling to your title. Be compassionate towards all people. Spend time with the forgotten ones or the socially unstable. Listen to those in pain. Offer your time.
The cross bids you to come and die and find that this is how you truly live.
This is descending into greatness.