“He did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but emptied Himself…”.
In their desire to flee the tyrannies of the old world with its’ controlling monarchies and lack of opportunity, the founding fathers unknowingly designed a system that would eventually lead us into what we have now. A country filled with isolated individuals seeking their own self interest with little or no sense of community. What began as “We the people”, has become, “I the individual”.
Self-emptying does not fit into our society. From the time we are very young, virtually all the social pressures around us drive us to find our place on the self-glorification hierarchy. It does not take long to realize what the game is: achievement and success. Self-worth is predicated upon money, prestige, power, sexual attractiveness and youth. This formula is inherently competitive and stressful and militates against all sorts of things that we actually need for a truly human life.
The debris of this way of life lies all around us. Lonliness, addiction, unrelenting stress, a constant sense of inadequacy, the gnawing fear of failure, to name just a few. And these realities are not unique to our society by any means. They can be found everywhere and give evidence to a world-wide bondage to the drive of the uninterrupted self.
God moves in a different direction. When He came among us, to be with us, to be one of us, His life was lived out on the margins among those whom it was easy to forget or dismiss. Jesus emptied Himself and became a servant, even unto death on the cross. And He did so for you, for all of us who are willing conspirators in the business of self-glorification.
When Christ Jesus takes hold of the heart in baptism, and grafts us onto the vine of His life, the forgiveness of sins takes us off the path of self-glorification and gives space for grace, flexibility for love. The direction is outward, the context is communal. The grasping hand opens to both give and receive in gratitude for the grace that sets us free.
“May the peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.”