Saturday, December 5, 2009

Something to be Grasped

Your attitude should be the same as Christ Jesus: who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. (Phil 2:5-7)

I don't think this is often used as a Christmas text, but it has come to my mind a lot lately. The girls and I memorized this whole passage together in homeschool. Verses 5 through 11 are a kind of original "Apostle's Creed" that early believers used to recite together when they were gathered to worship. We don't often do such mass recitals these days in our contemporary seeker-friendly worship services. I fear we've lost a sense of the value contained in this kind of exercise.

Anyway, this passage gives an excellent description of the event that we purport to be memorializing at Christmas: the choice of an infinite God to clothe himself in finiteness, to become one of us. I'm particularly struck by the phrase "did not consider equality with God something to be grasped". The Amplified says "eagerly grasped" and adds "or retained". The status and privileges of being the Almighty Creator of the universe weren't something he felt the need to cling to.

Can you imagine? I mean, if I were God, I would think I'd definitely prefer my comfortable divine-ness to the miserable, wretched state of us mortals. I'm still astonished at the whole concept of the Incarnation.

I remember an email that went around once with a story about a man, a skeptic whose family was all at Christmas Eve services while he sat at home, scoffing their belief in a God-become-man. Why would a God do such a thing? Then, he heard a strange noise coming from his attic and went upstairs to find a bird that had somehow managed to get in. It was frantically searching the room for a way out. The man opened a window, but the bird didn't recognize the available exit. He spent half an hour trying to shoo the bird to the open window to no avail. Finally, in desperation, he thought, "I wish I was a bird so I could tell him how to get out!"

And then it clicked.

Immanuel -- God with us. Forgive me if I get redundant, but I may be settling in around this "Immanuel" thing for a while. My Christmas meditations for 2009.

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