By Laura Adams
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name. (Phil 2:5-9)
If this verse just began with the words “Christ Jesus”… We would still be struck dumb with awe and wonder! It is beyond our comprehension what Jesus must have left in the perfection of eternity past! We only have glimpses of the beauty and splendor of heaven much less the relational unity He shared as part of the triune God. To only know unbroken love and indescribable joy of unashamed exposure of soul and motive of heart! Our brokenness makes it hard to grasp.
What must it have felt like to so fully yield to the will of another so that in every way that desire had entirely become your own?
Think of it!
No hidden motives??
To have only experienced the eternal delight in that kind of transparent unity, and then to intentionally leave that purest of light and love in order to put on the distortion, destruction and darkness of this broken world?
Although there was joy set before Him, there must have been pain in that parting…
And yet this was not some sort of cosmic experiment. This was a planned redemption mission; a mission that is at the very heart of Christianity and one that we are all called to be a part of. Which is why there is another way this verse begins: “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus…”
“Sharing” is God’s idea…
From eternity past, God is triune- or Complex One. Meaning He has always existed inside perfect relationship, sharing attributes and identity. He has always loved, and is always loving. He is always glorified and glorifying. He has always experienced the full measure of worship. He needs absolutely nothing, yet He is the pinnacle of extravagant grace.
When Jesus stepped out of shalom and into the shadows He was on mission. His plan was to put on the likeness of man… so that we could put on the likeness of God.
Doesn’t that sort of make you uncomfortable?
Jesus laid aside His glory, majesty and honor as God to come in the likeness of man. Which is an amazing crazy thing when you think about that. It would seem much more “fitting” if He had been like an “Undercover Boss” where He just disguised Himself for a time and then revealed Himself at just the right moment. But He didn’t do that. He humbled Himself in such a way that any one of us in any station of life could follow Him. And that is exactly what He expects of us.
The context of these verses is “unity through humility…” Paul is telling us that we can step out of our “comfort zones” into the “war zones” just as our Model and Maker, Jesus, did. If He can make Himself of no reputation, certainly we can! If He can look past His own interest to the needs of others, by His empowering grace, so can we! Lets look at the verses preceding…
Therefore, if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus…” (Phil 2:1-5)
God defines unity in the way He is in unity with Himself. That is the unity all genuine Christians are headed for and it is the unity Paul is asking us to strive towards.
This kind of unity has nothing to lose because it is already MINE. God has shared it in eternity past through Jesus and now is given to me in Jesus. Everything that matters is in Christ! But this kind of “mine” is not meant to be hoarded. Or, as Paul said of Christ, meant to be grasped at. It is meant to be laid down that others might be brought in. Because God so loved that He gave… He intends for us to love this same way.
Therefore, in His laying down, we can lay ourselves down… in His humbling we are set free to humble ourselves. Our seeming sacrifice turns to joy as we look at another human soul and see that they too can say, “MINE!” God is building an eternity future with children who share His nature, and thereby joyfully share His gifts with one another. Love so compelling, so liberating, that it must see others experience its goodness! This is indeed good news!
Yet, there is pain in the passion of Christ. Of course there is.
In this same letter Paul tells us that it has not only granted for us to believe, but to suffer for Jesus’ sake (Phil 1:29). This is a hard and narrow road and there are few who find it (Matt 7:14). Some of the suffering we experience is quite painful. There are personal betrayals, misunderstandings, separations that never quite heal this side of eternity. Yet eternity itself has been tasted, and the meal that is promised there is enough to carry us through another day towards home.
Yet it is the passion itself that compels the believer. We know the truth about our dead and sinful world. It is the love of Christ that compels us to step out from what is guarded and protected and into what may temporarily kill us (emotionally, mentally, or physically), because our spirit is eternally safe! What can man really do to me that God has not already seen and made provision for?
I can be like Paul! I am safe! I am loved! I am His!
Both joy and sorrow…
The bitter sweet!
Yet we are on mission till Jesus we meet!
Let us step out, and into the great gathering of God!