some verses for the day

Uncategorized Add comments

Philippians 2:1-13

If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves.

Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. 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.

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.

Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

I woke up this morning thinking about this passage. Generally the Christological hymn so-called is presented as a key passage of Paul’s understanding of Christ, or an example of an early Christian hymn which Paul utilized within his letter.

The surrounding verses, however, seem to make clear this passage isn’t primarily about Jesus. Like in much of Paul, his discussion about Jesus is really about us. He is not giving us a theological model of Christ’s reality, he is giving us a practical model of our intended reality, a reality most of us still don’t quite get.

We have made a leadership model the key part of the Church. From the super hierarchy of the Catholic Church to the less formal but no less insistent leadership by dynamic personality in the Evangelical Church. In all of this, in the basic model of pastor and priest, is the idea of being Christ, and in doing this representing God to the people. Church leaders regard raising themselves up as something to be grasped, and are eager to exploit those with the same intentions.

In careful consideration of this passage such terms as servant-leader have been developed, which implies, like the Pope’s Servant of the Servants of Christ, a leadership based on doing things for other people. However, servant-leader is not used in Scripture. The word is servant, without the rest.

Jesus lowered himself to be a servant. Likely at first, until he was thirty, serving others as a craftsman, serving his family in the expected role of the elder son. Indeed, as the verse tells us he did not command others to die for him, rather he died for us. He did all the dirty work.

In our culture of insistent ambition, however, it is anathema to relinquish leadership for the sake of service. We grasp, and we seek, and we cajole, and we court those above us while negating those who are “below” us, making this passage a rhetorical consideration rather imitating Jesus’ own worked out reality.

I consider this today because over the course of the last few years I’ve settled into being essentially a servant, investing in others, finding my own ambitions becoming washed away, letting go any sense of ambitious brown nosing in order to be pressed into the next levels of authority.

I have no authority whatsoever, no respect, no honorable place I can point to as symbolizing the fullness of my reality. I spent the first few years of this millenium grasping after equality with God, attempting to establish myself within a succesful ministry and finding only disillusionment through doing things right.

I can see this as God’s judgment, his wall which is a curse on my attempts towards contribution. Or I can read the Philippians verses, look about in my present circumstance and realize in my weakness and my folly and my shame I might just be closer to Christ than I have ever been before in my life.

It is God who is at work in you.

Thank God for Scriptures which point to the reality of such things when so often the bearers of Christ’s name strongly suggest otherwise. I feel the shame of the world. I also feel the work of God.

And that is something, indeed that might be everything, even if the path towards such is entirely different than everything I have been taught and shown over the many years of active Church ministry.

One Response to “some verses for the day”

  1. Scaliant Says:

    What a beautiful set of reflections! Thanks for sharing.