Summary: When we focus our attention on Jesus’ humble sacrifice, we see human pride and sin. It’s only when we depend on God that we receive salvation. God calls us to humility each and every day.
Have you ever faced opposition while on your Christian walk of faith? If so, you’re not alone. Opposition to the Christian way of doing things has existed since Christianity began. In the passage from Philippians 2:1-13, Paul is trying to deal with a rift that has occurred within the church at Philippi. He argues that the people of God have an incentive to come together for hope and comfort.
Paul emphasizes three characteristics of love: Harmony, humility and helpfulness. The church at Philippi needed to submit to Christ’s will and serve others. They, like all believers, needed to come together and agree in doctrine and creed, but not at the cost of the truth. Each believer has a responsibility for unity. Each believer has to take ownership of his or her own spirit and disposition. Ambition and conflict are empty works of the flesh. Christ has taught us how to submit to one another out of love instead of fear. We are to care for the interests of others more than we care about our own interests. There is a hurting world dull of hurting people. They need our help, even if it is only a hug or a sympathetic ear. We are to do so with humility. When we serve Jesus with humility, he will lift us up and exalt us just like he was exalted and lifted up. When we care for others as much as we care about ourselves, mutual service causes disunity to vanish.
Jesus is the perfect example of Christian unity. Paul tells the story of the crucifixion from Jesus’ viewpoint so that his followers can see that the price of unity was Jesus’ death on the cross. Jesus gave up his deity and heavenly position to become a servant. If he could waive his rights, so can we as Christians. He did this because he cared more about the human condition than he cared about his own benefit. Christ showed his humility by pouring out his life both literally and figuratively for us. He submitted himself to God’s authority, especially during his anguish in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before he died. When he returns, everyone will submit humbly to his authority-believers in joy, unbelievers in sorrow and remorse.
Not everyone has heard of Jesus, and that’s sad. Today, knowledge of the Bible has been steadily declining. Some people think that Jesus was just a religious leader. Some people think that he was a prophet, and others think that he was a good person, but as believers we know the truth. Jesus was God in the flesh. He gave up his position in heaven to take the form of a humble human in order to save us. Paul invites us to turn away from worldly influences and focus on Jesus’ example of humility. We are to persevere in faith in the face of opposition.
Why would he become a human and give up his life for us? The answer is simple. He did that because he loved us and wanted to give us our lives back. God puts Jesus in our lives through his living word-the Bible. He calls us his own through baptism. He forgives us and lives in us through the Eucharist. He is with us always. Jesus still reaches out to us today. He calls on us to trust him He tells us that we are still precious to him. He’s more than a hero-he’s our Lord and Saviour.
Christ didn’t see his godly position and authority as something to be kept for his own benefit. He was willing to sacrifice them so that he could be the sacrifice that was needed to save humankind. That was hard for the people to accept in Old Testament times, and it’s still hard for us to accept today. Christ left his heavenly position, but he was exalted by his resurrection and ascension. His exaltation will culminate with his Second Coming, when he will judge all the people and separate the saved from the unsaved. Jesus’ name and reputation create his power. That power will cause everyone to pay homage to him when he returns. The people will submit to his power and honour him. When they honour Jesus, they will honour God the Father. Jesus’ power exceeds earthly powers. Nothing is too difficult for him. No prayer is too hard for him to answer. His humble powers restored our broken relationship with God. There was a cost-his life-but to Jesus the cost was worth it.
Jesus is unique. He can’t be imitated. Instead, we must recognize the gifts God has given us, and we must think about each other in the same way that we think about Jesus. We have to look at situations with a mind that is informed by Christ and filled with his Spirit. We can do this because Jesus stirs our hearts, minds, emotions and wills. His name has spiritual power and can’t be mentioned in a neutral way. People either accept him or reject him.