“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.” (Philippians 2:1)
We ended yesterday by considering the fairness of the Divine, and my exhortation was that you would so align your life with the example set done by the Divine through Jesus Christ so that your life would be filled with sweetness and not bitterness. Paul’s comments extend our consideration and shift it to how we treat others, if we are indeed receiving encouragement and direction from Christ.
“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, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death– even death on a cross.” (Verses 2 – 8)
I am reminded of the Gospel passage from last week when Jesus instructed his disciples that the first will be last, and conversely the last will be first. Christ should have been first and foremost, being Divine. But he laid aside his privilege in order to save humanity . . . from itself. And keep in mind as you read the following verses that Jesus did this for our sake, and not for the glory that ultimately came to him.
“Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Verses 9 – 11)
Our “darker” side might say, “Really?!” Jesus did not know and expect all the glory that would come to him. Of course, beloved reader, that is a question and exclamation that should be directed to Paul. But since Paul is not available for comment and rebuttal, let me stand in. It was not a small thing that Jesus did; not an easy thing. Jesus was born human. Now we may pass that of as a minor thing, meaning that while he was made of sinew and bone, it did not define his abilities. Actually, it did. The miracles he did were empowered by the Divine, working through sinew and bone (as the Divine works through our sinew and bone) He ate and drank, needed to sleep, felt heat and cold, and felt pain. The fact that he could be killed, and have no doubt the Romans insured that all life and breath was gone from him, shows that his death was as much fact and life-ending event as other member of creation. Christians, actually, die and find new life. It is just that Jesus’ new life was here on earth again for a short time. So yes, really, Jesus earned all the glory and acclaim. The Divine could have just “shipped” him back to heaven and reabsorbed that aspect; but instead Jesus was given his own homage and prestige.
“Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Verses 12 – 13)
Once again, a question pops into mind – why would this homage and acclaim that Jesus was given cause us to “work out your/own salvation”? I am not sure I can as easily answer that one. The theory has been put forth that since we have received the blessing of salvation and redemption (to name only two) we should give thanks by committing ourselves to living an authentic Christian life and treating others according to the traits and attributes of an authentic Christian who is following the life example of Jesus the Messiah.
As I was thinking about this, beloved reader, trying to think of a way to explain what I mean (and most likely what Paul meant) I remember a quote attributed to someone named Steve Prefontaine. He said, “To give anything less than your best, is to sacrifice the gift.” He was a famous runner here in Oregon. Now the interesting thing is that Paul at point describes the Christian life as running the good race, and finishing well. I am going to leave you think on that, beloved reader, and let you ponder the connections. Shalom & Selah!