“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.” (Philippians 2:5 – 8)
It is not usual to consider Jesus Christ brave – at least that is not an adjective that is normally associated with the Divine. I mean, the Divine is brave – of that there is no doubt – but then what would the Lord God be scared of? Think over the story and ministry of Jesus the Messiah. Either the Lord God or Jesus Christ was in control of . . . . well . . . everything. All the things that happened were ordained to happen, for reasons that are still shrouded in some mystery. Note though that Paul is saying be of the same mind; if Jesus suffered because of what was supposed to happen, we too should be willing to suffer for our beliefs. Comparatively speaking, Jesus lost a lot more (according to Paul) than we ever will.
Now Paul does use the word “obedient” in talking about Jesus and his submitting to the cross. One definition of obedient might be doing what have to do even though you are terrified to do it. I remember a presentation (actually two presentations) I had to make in seminary. For both I was very prepared; had done a great deal of research and had a small stack of paper to present from. However, on the one occasion I became sick the day before and fumbled through the presentation. I could have begged off being sick; or simply handed out to the class I was presenting to my preparatory work to make it easier on myself. I did neither – to my regret.
One the other occasion I had prepared diligently; had all the information I wanted to present; but got the pages mixed up in my hands. What to do? Earlier that morning I had seen a flock of birds flying over head and it impressed me the way their wings just carried them aloft. At the present second I knew I had lost my place, I just decided to “wing” it. I knew the material, and just started “teaching” (see yesterday’s post about how that ability evolved). In the first instance I was scared and did not want to let go off the control I thought I should have. In the second instances I summed up heretofore unknown courage and let fly. But, I digress.
“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)
Which of the two instances do you think, beloved reader, were more God-lead? The answer is pretty obvious. And in which instance do you think I stepped into the role of a “teacher”? Again, pretty clear. Lastly, which instance gave more glory to the Divine? Ah yes, beloved reader, that where & why I still feel shame and regret.
The Lord God exalted Jesus Christ – which is like saying the Lord God exalted the God-self. But when we follow the lead and example of Jesus Christ – part of which is finding the courage to do as we have been led to do – we also glorify and exalt the Divine. NOT because of our human efforts but because we allow the Divine to use us. The Lord God used the aspect of the Divine called Jesus to do some amazing work . . . . miraculous work. The Lord God uses us too, calling us to the same sort of redeeming and teaching work that Jesus did. If you doubt me, remember that Jesus said his disciples would do more amazing things than he did. NOT because they surpass Jesus, but because from their relatively lower abilities they teach and bless others as Jesus did. Pretty brave of them, yes?!
It is in these days and times, beloved reader, that we are called upon to do hard things for our fellow beings. The global community needs saving. And each one of us has within us the ability to help others. In this virus crisis we are called upon to be brave. May the Divine through the example of Jesus Christ’s sacrificing nature show us the way. Selah!