You should have the same attitude toward one another that Christ Jesus had, who, though he existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped, but emptied himself by taking on the form of a slave, by looking like other men, and by sharing in human nature. He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death – even death on a cross!(Philippians 2:5-8, NET Bible)
The verse above does not find its way into Christmas cards or Christmas carols. Even so, it very well expresses the core of Christ’s Incarnation. God the Word, fully and completely God, emptied himself (in Greek, ekenosen).
He took on the form of a slave – a slave is one who labors not for his own benefit but for the benefit of another. He shared completely and fully our human nature, even to the point of being born a helpless child.
He was not humbled by another, but he humbled himself that we might be raised up. He obeyed the Father to the point of death – a most shameful death upon the cross – that you and I might have salvation in Him. Truly, His ekenosen, His self-emptying, boggles the mind.
Speaking of boggling the mind, you and I are called to take on this very same mindset. This attitude that Jesus Christ had, we are supposed to have among ourselves.
In our relating to one another (in our church, in our community, in our family, and in our neighborhood) we are called to ekenosen – to empty ourselves.
Ours should be a servant orientation: not my benefit but the benefit of others. We are called to obedience – wherever that obedience leads.
Lord Jesus, may we more fully and tangibly grasp the implication of your emptying. Help us, Lord Jesus, to become more and more like you in humility, in servanthood, and in obedience. For you, our Lord, are our life; you are our salvation. In you, O Lord, in you alone is our hope.
Photo credit: Foot-washing in imitation of Christ, © by Don Schwager
Jerry Munk is the senior coordinator of the Work of Christ Community, Lansing, Michigan, USA. He and his wife Jan are members of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Lansing.