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.
This beautiful first-century hymn gives us a glimpse of the early church’s understanding of Jesus. They were close to the reality of Christ, some having witnessed his very life and ministry here on earth. How would those who had seen him try to describe him?
This hymn affirms the divine nature of Christ, and that he is God. It also affirms that Jesus viewed power in a way which would always be used for the good of others, and that this is an attribute of God. God, the eternal and creative, who is all-powerful, uses power for the sake of others. Or, is even willing to relinquish power for the sake of others, which is what Christ did voluntarily. It was in his nature to try and reach out to all of humanity.
Jesus models servant leadership, being willing to take the lowest position so that he can create a pathway for humanity to be united with the Triune God. Jesus was willing to take upon himself the sins of all humanity and die because of his great love for all of us.
This hymn is one of praise for who Jesus is!
We are traveling through the season of Lent, following Jesus to the cross. To follow Jesus, we should really wrestle with who this Jesus is! Sometimes we have a rather sanitized version of Christ and fail to see the reality of what he has done for us, and what that means for us, if we are to become like him.
Humility, self-sacrifice, service to others, and relinquishing of power are all the hallmarks of Jesus’ life, and should be reflected in his disciples. If we are to become like Christ, then we are to have the mind of Christ, becoming like him. This doesn’t preach to those who are looking for an easy Christianity, or some kind of a prosperity gospel.
A recent Barna study revealed that young people in the United States are walking away from the faith because the faith they received as children was too much of a fantasy. Youth groups that were “fun,” and fancy playgrounds for children’s entertainment subtly taught that this is what Christianity is all about. When faced with the reality that Christianity was really something different, they have left, thinking that we’ve tried to pull some come of bait and switch.
Instead of trying to attract people by competing with the world, why not try and present the true Christ? No, it’s not always a pretty picture, but it is real, and the Christ who humbles himself, is also the Christ who walks with us day in and day out in the realities of the mess which we find in this world.
What would happen in our churches if we began to teach children from a small age that we are servants of others? When the church begins to model Christ’s activity, the world just may begin to take notice. Maybe they’ll cry out, “see how they love another,” and not, “look what a cool coffee bar they have.”
We don’t need to try and be like anything, but Christ. That takes true humility, because being a servant or slave, isn’t cool. But this is the true Jesus, the one who invites to come and follow him through Lent, and to the cross.
Lord, forgive me for when I’ve gotten it all wrong. Please, help me live into you and your life. Amen.
This post was written by Rev Carla Sunburg. You can find her original post here: reflectingtheimage.blogspot.com/2018/03/do-you-know-who-jesus-is.html