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Summary: This is a sermon about what it means to see Jesus as human and having a power limited to the power to serve, save, and deliver.

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Philippians 2:5-8New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

5 Let the same mind be in you that was[a] in Christ Jesus,

6 who, though he was in the form of God,

did not regard equality with God

as something to be exploited,

7 but emptied himself,

taking the form of a slave,

being born in human likeness.

And being found in human form,

8 he humbled himself

and became obedient to the point of death—

even death on a cross.

Philippians 2:5-8The Message (MSG)

5-8 Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.

In Verse 7 of this text the author in the NSRV says Christ Emptied his self. Yet in the message translation it says he set aside his privileges.

1) Something for nothing

What does "privilege" have to do with Black men? We understand some kinds of privilege. The privilege to call a black man "Boy", even if that black man happens to be 60 years old or older. Many of us long long for equal pay for equal work. The privilege of being accepted in the work place for our talents. Some of us are tired of training the person who with no more education becomes our boss. The privilege to drive a car and never have to worry that the police will racially profile you.

Privileges that have nothing to do with what a person has earned, but rather are based entirely on who a person is, or what color they are.

As African Americans, we have the ability to critique and condemn these types of "unearned assets" because we recognize that these privileges come largely at our expense.

We have also learned from social and political movements that have sought to redress these privileges, and academic disciplines that have provided us with the tools to critically examine and explore them.

2) Two words: Harry Reid.

Nevada senator Harry Reid talked about Barack Obama’s presidential chances by saying that he’s “light-skinned” without a “Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.”

Readers over the age of 30 will also remember how whites got to pretend they weren’t racist by saying how great Colin Powell would’ve been if he were president; a common theme was Powell’s well-spoken and articulate.

Chris Rock had an amazing routine in his Bring the Pain concert where he punctured the self-congratulatory bonhomie whites felt about Colin Powell.

As Rock points out in the skit, saying that Powell “speaks so well” isn’t a compliment because it assumes that Powell wouldn’t be able to speak well – the listener is surprised at just how articulate Powell is. And despite Rock’s offensive use of the term retarded, he does make a concrete analogy: the effusive praise of Powell’s speaking ability is condescending – a better example might be how impressed people are with children’s accomplishments.

But towards the end, in his comedic outrage he asks a very important question: “How do you expect him to sound?”

That is key – folks who are impressed with Obama, Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Oprah Winfrey, et al. are surprised because they don’t expect black people to speak standard English – they expect a variation on either hip-hop patois or Rock’s devastatingly on-point (and withering) take on Amos & Andy/Buckwheat vernacular.

And some people may argue that there’s nothing racist about saying someone is articulate – after all, being well-spoken isn’t a universal trait – there are mealy-mouthed dum dums who can’t speak in every race – why am I singling out blacks? It’s simple – loads of people still think black people are stupid. Not only that, but think that we have no power.

3) Real Power is the power to serve

The truth is far removed we have power. I once again lift this popular quote Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

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