Glory in Emptiness

April 2nd, 2009

Brianby Brian Gumm,
Master of Divinity/Master of Conflict Transformation Dual Degree student

Read: Philippians 2:5-11

Reflect: But [Jesus] made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant…”  Our English teachers taught us that we’re not supposed to begin sentences with the words “and” or “but.” To be fair, the snippet of scripture listed above doesn’t start the sentence, but comes after a comma and a previous thought. But “but” is important to consider here, so we’ll suspend convention to make a point, which is this:

The nature of Jesus Christ is the eternal “but” to our human nature.

The dictionary defines “but” as “on the contrary.” Our nature is contrary to Christ’s. The disciples argued about who was the greatest, and Jesus washed their dirty feet. Furious religious leaders and powerful Roman officials held Jesus’ life in their hands, and he stood before them. Silently. A criminal hung on a cross next to Jesus, and he was invited to paradise. The world cries: “But that’s not fair!” We marvel at our Lord who works in such a strange fashion.

In this letter, written nearly two millennia ago, Paul is talking to a church in northern Greece. But Paul is also talking to us now. Today. He’s pointing to Christ. Listen! Jesus is calling us to pour ourselves out for the sake of the good news that he brought and continues to bring to this earth.

Will we hear the call? If so, what will our response be?

Respond: God, we come up with an endless string of “buts” to wiggle our way out of obedience to you. How amazing it is, then, that you continue to work with us and bless us. May we take Christ’s example of complete humility and obedience to heart and make it our goal. May his selflessness puncture the inflated balloons of our selfishness and bring us back down to serve our neighbors and bring glory to you. In Christ’s holy name we ask this: Amen.