Lent: Following Jesus

Someone once referred to the so-called unholy trinity: me, myself and I. When we become aware of our self -centeredness we realize it is always about my interests, concerns, ideals, longings, security, freedom, happiness, and career.

In Philippians 2: 6-11 Paul refers to a known Christian hymn. He reminds them of the principle of self-denying attitude of Christ. He is the example of someone who moved away from self-serving to total servanthood. Jesus gave up his Godliness. He didn’t cling to the glory of being God. He did not grab it and held on to it. He gave it up freely, willingly. Precisely because He was in the form of God, He reckoned equality with God not as a matter of getting but of giving. In this hymn we proclaim the nature of God as giving and letting go of and serving.

The cross was a scandalous way to die. It was a curse. On the cross the humility and serf-sacrifice service of Jesus are being demonstrated. He reveals to us his servant identity. Paul uses the Greek word ‘kenosis’ which means depletion to illustrate Jesus’s attitude to serve us completely.

Self-giving is the identity of God in Jesus which was not something that happened to Him. Jesus chose it purposefully. This is Who God is, He chooses to be like that – it is the identity of the Jesus Whom we worship. Jesus made himself nothing, of no reputation. He did not demand or cling to his right to be God but emptied himself, taking the very nature of a slave.

The song has a second verse. This second verse honours the glory and exaltation of Jesus. He is above all powers, everything and everybody. Everybody is celebrating the cosmic elevation of Jesus.

Nobody will be able to ignore or deny his elevated position. They will have to worship Him with body and words. Jesus will also receive the highest Name – the Name of God Himself. He will glorify God with His new Name.

The paraphrased translation ’Word on the street’ of Philippians 2:6-11 reads as follow:

He was God, right through to the marrow, but He didn’t use His clout to put himself about heaven.

He took off all the royal bits, cut up His heavenly credit cards,

Chucked his global contacts list, walked off without His bodyguards.

He unplugged His airwave connection, left His precious star collection,

He said:” I give it up.”

And He took up a new role- a role well below Him:

He became flesh and blood, skin and bone,

And stepped down from His heavenly throne to His new earth-home as a normal guy.

And more-He allowed Himself to die;

And more- He allowed Himself to be nailed and executed on a cross.

So God brought Him back, celebrated Him, and elevated Him to the top spot.

Letters behind His name? He got the lot!

So everyone will show Jesus ultimate respect,

Everyone will stand for inspection all “present and correct”,

And every mouth will say, “He’s Boss, this Liberator, Jesus-Boss.”

And God’s reputation, His credibility, will soar,

As His enemies weep and His fans roar.

During our time of Lent, let us follow in the footsteps of Jesus laying off our self-centeredness and take upon us servanthood to be available to serve God and everyone and everything He has created in this wonderful universe.

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