5Let the same mind be in you that was* in Christ Jesus, 6who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, 7but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, 8he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross. 9Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, 10so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
It’s that time of year when we hear quite a lot about the “Christmas spirit,” and the need to “get in the spirit.” But what is that Christmas spirit, and how does one get in the spirit?
In today’s text the Apostle Paul points us to the true Christmas spirit as revealed at the first Christmas. Paul says that although Christ was the eternal and infinite God, “he emptied himself…humbled himself…and became obedient to the point of death….even death on a cross..” The Son of God let go his immortality that he might clothe himself in our mortality. He took to himself human flesh that we might share in his life glory.
The Son’s emptying of Himself is seen in the very moment of His birth, by being born a Jew, the most hated and persecuted people of the day. He was wrapped in strips of cloth, and laid in a feeding trough for cattle behind the town inn. He went through the childhood trauma of a war torn country and was carried off in the dark of night to a strange and faraway land.
He grew up with the stigma of being called the “illegitimate” son of the carpenter. Neighbors scorned him for doing good. He was rejected for loving the unlovely. A trusted friend sold him for a few pieces of silver, while another swore oaths he never knew Him. And for the crime of being the Son of God, he was impaled to a cross. As he was tortured by sadistic executioners he prayed, “Father forgive them.” He died a slow, shameful, excruciating death, and in his last gasps announced his work, “Finished!”
No one made Jesus do this. It was his love for us that made him pour out his life. He came down to become one with us forever that we might share in his eternal life.
The Apostle Paul tells us these deep things of God, not as a primer in Christian doctrine, but as a call to action. He tells us these things so that we might get into the Christmas spirit. In a world saturated with a “me-first” philosophy, the Apostle enjoins us to let the Spirit of Christ fill us so that we might also give ourselves for others.
Jimmy Stewart, the star of the Christmas time classic movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” was once asked about the meaning of the popular story. Stewart replied:
Today, after some 50 years, I’ve heard the film called “an American cultural phenomenon.” Well, maybe so, but it seems to me there is nothing phenomenal about the movie itself. It’s simply about an ordinary man who discovers that living each ordinary day honorably, with faith in God and a selfless concern for others, can make for a truly wonderful life.
Read, Reflect, Respond, and Rest with today’s scripture text,
Philippians 2:5-11, and devotional.
Today’s Moments of Diaphany
- an answer to prayer
- evidence of his love and care
- evidence of his creative power and wisdom
- his help to do his work