“Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus... [who] emptied himself... [and] humbled himself.”
— Philippians 2:5-8 (NRSV)
An article with such a title is unlikely to be read much. Nobody these days wants to be a nobody for nobody, but some might choose to be a nobody for Someone: a Someone named Jesus.
The golden paradox involved in becoming a nobody is that, once we arrive there, we suddenly realise this was always the way we were supposed to live, because there is an absence of the selfish desire, which means there is an absence of discontent. In other words, contentment belongs to the person who is so immersed in God and all his creation, they are able to see beyond themselves and, for example, they are not trapped as a weakling in their First World problems. First world problems don’t exist in parts of the world where basic needs are not taken for granted.
The genuine nobody doesn’t have a complaint in the world for themselves, and of course we all fall short.
It is an interesting test to determine what complaints are valid, for we may find that First World problems dominate our complaints. When we begin to complain about the poverty in the world and about the lack of fresh water for a remote South African village then we may have a legitimate complaint. Sure, there are plenty of injustices we can complain about, many of which are valid, but we are always to benefit in checking whether or not our complaints find their basis out of self-regard.
When we enquire of the character of Jesus we are liable to find that advocacy was a key identifier; but Jesus was rarely ever an advocate for himself alone. The possible exception is when he approached his death, when fleetingly his prayer was for the Father to relieve him of the burden of a cross.
What I think God is urging us to find is the reality of emptying ourselves and of humbling ourselves; that in living simply, and beyond First World problems and complaints, we will find true contentment, perhaps for the very first time. Of course, our motivation shouldn’t be one of self-regard, but God understands we will struggle to commit to becoming a nobody for Jesus. We are fortunate that he has blessed us with the fruit of contentment when we live like him.
Not many people will embrace becoming a nobody, but Jesus desires those who will live like he did. He who emptied himself of his mighty power and glory, and humbled himself to the point of death on a cross, wants us to empty ourselves of our ego and humble ourselves to the point of bearing our crosses.
Becoming a ‘nobody’ for Jesus is agreeing to become a ‘somebody’ for the Kingdom.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.