“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.”
~Philippians 2:5-8 (NRSV).
The literal rendering of this proclamation-of-Christ to every believer is quite wooden yet rhythmical, and even in this way it’s more intentionally powerful than our mainstream Western versions. It’s astounding, the humility of Jesus Christ.
The passage itself would be kerygmatic (evangelistic) yet it’s entirely focused inwardly—on the body of Christ alone—directing believers’ hearts toward servanthood—to Christ, the Author and Perfector of our faith, as model (Hebrews 12:2).
A Divine Calling to All – Take the Attitude of Service – Christ our Model
This is a heavenly call to us here on earth to wise up and become mature, for having a servant heart is all about maturity—living for others. Jesus is perfect moral maturity.
It’s about emptying ourselves of the status of gods—because, although we’re not God and never will be, we often put ourselves in the place of gods, via our pride.
Wherever we demand our own justice, for instance, considering God is not defending us well enough, we consider ourselves better than Christ, who humbled himself, considering himself ‘worthy’ even of the Cross. This is a reverse ‘worthiness’ and yet this is the worthiness God too is calling us to—not the proud version of worthiness.
Imagine God emptying himself partially so he could come to earth—with intention, recalling this was the Divine ‘get-out clause’ in a plan hatched before Creation—to be treated worse than us. He became a slave to show us the way. And further down he stooped to die a shameful, criminal’s death.
A Portrait of Servanthood
What do we achieve when we empty ourselves of ‘us’ to become everything we can be for God? Couple this with a strong self-acceptance (which needs to be our pre-requisite) and there’s nothing in this anything like a ‘doormat’ experience. This needs to be tried to be believed.
In this we suddenly appreciate how Jesus might have felt as he reached down unconditionally, helping willingly every time he was led by his Father to do so.
Grappling not with ‘what we deserve,’ we go onto a brighter and better revelation; the godly prominence of servanthood—a place where God himself infuses us with an anointing for more good works of faith.
We open up to genuine privilege—though not quite as we’ve known before; to serve God through serving others. We’re royal slaves.
Proper servanthood is nothing at all about the works we do; it’s all about representing the attitude of Christ, in the little things, whenever we do serve. This can only ever be a heart-thing.
We can only ever serve cheerfully—especially when most of the time we’re not thanked—when God is in this Divine call. And then alone will we know genuine freedom!
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.