In studying Paul’s Prison Epistles, the one concept that impacted me the most was actually something I had heard multiple times, but had never grasped the magnitude of it. In one of the articles I used in my research, the author lists “7 Principles to Lead as Jesus Led”. Seeing this title, I immediately thought, “oh, this is for me!” He pulled from examples throughout the New Testament for each principle. But the one principle that captivated me the most and quite frankly took my breath away, was his first principle listed. “Jesus humbled himself and allowed God to exalt him.” That one statement, though simply put, holds so much extraordinary power behind it. Then he followed with an explanation from Philippians 2:5-11, and reading both the ESV and Message version, I continued to be blown away at this thought.
The Message version of the Bible challenges us to “Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself.” Think about that for a second. Is that something we can even begin to comprehend? To be honest, I think some of us are narcissistic enough to think we could grasp the depth of that challenge. It goes on to simply explain “He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all.” Ok, so lets break that down. Here we have the SON OF GOD…the Son of the most illimitable, unfathomable, immeasurable, incomprehensible, incorruptible and immaculate GOD. He is equal to God…one with God and Jesus does not use that to His advantage. Can we honestly say, we wouldn’t? Go ahead, put yourself in His position for a minute. Here, I tell you what, I will go ahead and put myself out there….I can’t even begin to imagine myself in that position. I will be real, I cannot even begin to grasp that level of humility that Jesus took on, therefore I honestly don’t think I wouldn’t use it to my advantage.
As I have mentioned before, the past (now) two years have been a very long and difficult journey of vulnerability, humility, and down right getting real with God and others. It was not something I just decided to do, God squeezed it out of me. I will say on my behalf, I had to be willing. I had to get to the end of me. Even still, I have had to continue to practice dying to myself on a daily basis. I realized real quick it was going to get messy whether I fought it or not, why not do some healing and gain some freedom in the process. The thing that blows my mind is, Jesus knew who He was. He also knew what His purpose and calling was. Yet the perfection in His willingness to humble Himself and be obedient, was unwavering.
The amazing Word goes on to say, “When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion. Because of that obedience, God lifted him high and honored him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings in heaven and on earth—even those long ago dead and buried—will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ, and call out in praise that he is the Master of all, to the glorious honor of God the Father.” Jesus followed His Father’s will rather than seeking out approval of man or a position. For Jesus to know He had equal status to God, and for Him to not take advantage of His status, setting His privileges of deity aside and taking on human form, then becoming a slave, boggled my mind more so than it had before. This concept, that He humbled Himself to live and die in the most perfectly, obedient and selfless way, serving others His entire life, shatters any concept of perfect humanity. We, as humans try so hard to maintain Christ consciousness; to be obedient and selfless day to day, yet in the midst of turmoil and persecution, He did it so perfectly and willingly. He saw greatness in humbly serving.
Now, let me be clear, in no way am I saying that Jesus gave up His deity. He knew Who’s He was. In the ESV version verse 7, states that “He emptied Himself”. Some people have interpreted this to mean that He gave up His divinity or that He was divine up to a point. It is quite the opposite. It meant He put the advantages of being divine aside in order that God could be in Christ in order to reconcile Himself to the world (2 Corinthians 5:19). He did not think of being equal to God as something to take advantage of or use on His behalf. It is not as if He would use His divine power to make His life or the process of dying on the cross, easier. It was that He saw his equality to God as a commitment to becoming human, enduring such tribulation, and dying such an excruciating and humiliating death for us…His children. It was symbolic of who God really is….a God of self-giving love.
The point is this…the God who does not share His glory with anyone else, shared it with Jesus. Because of this, Jesus, the One from all eternity was ‘equal to God’. So Jesus’ life, from incarnation to death, cannot be looked at as if He stopped being God but as the absolute perfect display or expression of the true God. A perfect example of a leader to follow. In this moment, God revealed the blueprint to His original plan for our interpretation of Him and His love for us.
Which brings me to my final point…
You want to understand God’s love for you and how He sees you? God created you, knowing the plan…the calling He had for you. Even in the ugly moments, He saw your purpose, who you were. He did not measure His love for you by those moments, He still looked at you and saw purpose….His purpose. He knew/knows your potential and is constantly presenting you with opportunities to step into them. Your goal is to see everyone, including ourselves from His perspective….from this perspective….a heavenly perspective, which is only revealed through the very nature and heart of God.
So every time He looks at you, He sees not just purpose but His purpose. He always see the positive in you. This is how we have to choose to look at ourselves if we want heavenly perspective. This is who we are….Who’s we are! Does that make sense? In other words, that moment of simultaneously creating you and your purpose for the Kingdom, He defined you!