not that i have already attained all this…

i can be such a jerk.  sometimes ppl see and experience how much of a jerk i am firsthand, and other times i am just one in the privacy of my own life.  basically, i can think i am better than other people a lot of times.  i figure i’ve got things figured out about the world and about god and about people.  of course, i don’t have anything figured out really, and i fumble through life worse than even most ppl.  yet, i can have the ATTITUDE that i have it all together better than others.  i don’t love purely.  man, i wish i did.  i wish i did for one whole day.  but i don’t.  none of us does.  i have moments when i do.  but man, does my “self” ever kick in as often as it can. 

so, it got me to thinking about how it is christmas, and a different scripture just now struck me to recognize this day.  it’s not one of the gospel accounts of jesus’ birth or well-known prophetic passages in isaiah.  it is in philippians.  it is this:

philippians 2:5-11       “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:  Who, being in very nature God, did not consider eqality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking on the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death — even death on a cross!  Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

jesus came in human likeness as a servant.  he humbled himself and was obedient.  he did not try to make himself equal with god.  he didn’t try to act like he knew it all – even though he was in very nature god.  and, our ATTITUDE is to be the same.  it’s not just that jesus did these things, it’s that even his attitude was in check. 

this christmas, may i recognize not just that jesus came in human form to live and eventually die to save me from eternal punishment for my sins, but may i also recognize the attitude jesus took as he lived in human form.  and may i model that with all that i am. 

please read all of phil. really.  (it is really a favorite bible book of mine) to gain a fuller context of all this.  but, as you read on in chap. 3, paul writes about great and wondrous stuff to do and attitudes to have:

3:7-11:  “But whatever was to my profit i now consider loss for the sake of Christ.  What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.  I consider them rubbish, that i may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is though faith in Christ == the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.  I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow to attain the resurrection from the dead.”

ok….great.  wow – what sacrificial living and radical faith paul describes!   have you ever worn this badge?  “woo-hoo, i’ve got it all together and have given up everything possible to give for the sake of christ!”   seriously, how often have we actually shared in the sufferings of jesus on a regular basis?  well, here’s a cool thing.  and i never noticed it before b/c so often we look at the above passage by itself.  except, you have to read the very next sentence/verse, which is…

3:12-14   “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  Friends, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.  but one thing I do:  Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

WOW.  (really, i could do a whole big thing on philippians right now, but i am just hitting a highlight or two in light of x-mas)   paul gets that he has not attained all this perfection.  he doesn’t have it all together or have all the answers.  he doesn’t carry that attitude of christ at all times.  none of us does.  yet, how often do we think we do?  i can so easily think i have it all together.  i am not just talking about not sinning; i am talking about an attitude where i think my view of god is better than someone else’s – where i do stuff for god in a way better than other’s, etc.  (though it’s interesting that earlier in phil. paul also talks about working out our own salvation with fear and trembling. we each need to be in tune with god and be following him for ourselves – you know what i mean?)

paul gets that he has not reached perfection in attitude or action, BUT, he will continue to press on - to keep trying – to keep working things out with god and with others (so much in phil. about both of these things) and try to do it with a humble and gentle attitude, living more like a servant that a lord – than in lording things over people  (we do that – not obviously usually; we do it subtley in how we think we are better than others and stuff).

anyway, i could go on and on, but really just read philippians and let it speak to you.  but this christmas, may god help me to take on the nature the jesus came and lived.  may i see that i don’t have it all together or figured out about god and life, but i will press on and move ahead. 

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