Summary: The best place to go if you want to be "better" as a Christian - the cross...
Look at the cross, Look at yourself
Philippians 2:6-8 (Jesus), being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-- even death on a cross!
There are places you can go that completely change you. The TV show "The Biggest Loser" pictures a place like that. A person isn't happy with their appearance - he wants to lose weight - and so he goes to a place that completely changes him. His body changes, his mind changes, and he leaves that special place a brand new person. Have you seen the show?
You hear about a famous singer whose number one song is bringing her all kinds of fame and money. But something's wrong - she has an eating disorder. Some of you know who this is. She needs to go to a special place that changes her mind, her thinking, and her body, and hopefully she comes out of that special place a brand new person.
Do you need to go to a special place? Where do Christians go when they look at themselves and say, "You know, I need to change something about my life. I want to be a better Christian." Have you ever thought that? During this season of Lent we are focusing especially on the concept of stewardship - how am I using my time, my talents, and my treasures for the glory of God? Do you want to get better at that? Do you ever look at yourself and say, "You know, the way I use my time - I hardly use any of it for the glory of God. The way I use my money, the way I use my talents - it's all for me, and my glory. I need to make a change. I want to become a Christian who uses the things God has given me for him! I want to get better at that!" Do you? Where is the place you go for that? Where is the place you go that can change your mind, the way you think. Where is the special place you go that can change your attitude and your lifestyle, and you leave this place and you're different - You start using more of your time for God. You start using more of your money, and your abilities, for God… where is the place you go where that change in your heart happens?
There is a place for that. We go there every Lenten season. And that place is the cross of Jesus Christ. Sometimes, when we go to the cross, and we see Jesus there, and it's so common to us, that we get bored. We say to ourselves, yes, Jesus dying on the cross for my sins, I get it. Amen. What's new?
This morning, I'd like you go to the cross with me. We're going to take a deep look into the cross of Jesus. We're going to think about what Jesus was really doing on that cross - how did he really get there in the first place, and what does that teach me about myself? What does it change about the way I live my life? Is there something inside of me that's holding me back from really praising God with my life? Is there something I lack, that Jesus can give me, that sets me free to honor God with every minute, every dollar, every ability that I have?
Let's go to the cross. What do we see? At first glance, Jesus looks pretty plain - a human body nailed to a piece of wood. There is the crown of thorns, there is the blood. But that Bible says that there is more to see, than just that. It says that this person on the cross, "being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped." This human body on the cross is, in his very nature, God. Inside that person is the same God who made the world in Genesis. The same God who calmed storms and healed diseases. This is who is hanging on the cross. How is that possible? Why doesn't Jesus, who is God, say, "This cross is below me. I'm not going to suffer like that. I'm not going to let these people treat me that way. I am God! These sinful creatures aren't worth dying for, look at how worldly and uncaring they are."
No, Jesus doesn't say that. Instead, it says here that he "did not consider equality with God something to be grasped." What do we call that, when someone is grasping to be equal to God? Wasn't that the sin of Adam and Eve - they wanted to be equal to God - what is that sin? The oldest sin in the history of the world. It's the sin of pride. It's a poison that stops people from glorifying God, and causes people to glorify themselves.