Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the historic one-year lectionary.
Central to Jesus’ attitude in dealing with the worldwide pandemic crisis of sin, death, and destruction is his humility. This may just make a lot of sense to a lot of people at this moment in our history. Actually, I don’t know that for certain. I happen to be writing this post nine days before it will post. I’m in quarantine (no, nobody in the family is showing any symptoms of illness, but we had some travel which brought us through places crowded with a lot of people from other placs as well), actually comfortably recovering from some strenuous socially-distanced gardening. A few weeks ago, “social distancing” was a novelty term. Two weeks ago today I was engaged in some language coaching, some visits to people who couldn’t get to church due to age and health issues, and some work on a busy college campus where people were looking forward to Spring Break! Circumstances can certainly change, and change fast.
What does this have to do with Jesus and Philippians chapter two? A great deal. As the Bible portrays him, Jesus, creator and lord of all, understands the seriousness of sin. It brings death. It may bring death today, it may bring it with a delay, but it brings death, eternal destruction. That isn’t what he created it to be, but it is the just curse of a sinful and fallen condition. We all get to suffer from it. As the world was made to run, sin can be forgiven. That forgiveness comes about by perfect righteousness, which means we may never sin in any way, or by someone else’s perfect righteousness and death on our behalf. Since we, as sinful beings, cannot possibly earn forgiveness, we have to depend on someone who is perfect, and that perfect someone has to be completely human. This is Jesus, who had no sin, who could become a human like we are, and who lived a life of perfect obedience to God the Father, finally dying in our place. The passage in Philippians two describes the way Christ, God the Son, considered our need more important than the majesty and glory he held with the Father. He humbled himself to meet our need. We were unable to do anything ultimately meaningful against the enemy. But he was able, and did all that was necessary for our salvation.
All this Jesus does out of care for us. He is motivated by our need. In the end, all the praise and thanksgiving we give is certainly due to Jesus, but we do it not to earn his favor but because of his favor which has been poured out upon us already.
Does this influence the way we live in our society? I sure hope it does. In the past several weeks we have all been hearing of many people who are in need, some in situations of critical need. We are able to help some of them. Others, we cannot help. But imagine what happens if Christians, who have a confidence in eternity and who have seen Jesus’ work for them, commit themselves to loving and serving their neighbors in the ways they can! This may include, as in my case just now, avoiding contact with neighbors who may be in fragile health. It may include picking up the telephone in the old fashioned way and making a voice call to a friend who is worried, a relative who can’t get out, someone who is tired. Above all, Christians can pray for the sick, just like we have been doing for centuries. We can remember that the prayers of the Church have regularly been, among other things, for good government, for protection against plague and pestilence, for the strength and health of community and family, and for God’s Word to bring comfort to the hurting. Could we possibly care for others in that way?
Jesus thinks of us before he considers his own honor, glory, position, and prestige. We can think of others in the same way. Have this same mind in yourself, the apostle says. Will we do it perfectly? Not at all. But we can try.
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