Hello and welcome to Tuesday’s podcast. I hope you are having a great week. My name’s Bryony and I’m joining you all week as we look at Paul’s letter to the Philippians. Yesterday we thought about Paul’s challenge to move from self-centeredness to selflessness. Today he puts flesh on the bones of this idea by describing the best example of this, Jesus.
This passage is very different to the rest of the letter and comes in the form of a beautiful poem, it’s definitely worth reading fully and maybe even memorising if you are up for a challenge. Stay tuned at the end of this podcast to hear the whole passage but today I’m going to focus on verse 7. It reads;
he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
When we read Paul’s words and hear Jesus took ‘the very nature of a servant’, it causes me to pause and ask the question ‘what is that nature’, ‘what is a servant’?.
Now, I’m not really a box set watcher, I rarely have any clue what people are talking about at lunchtime when conversation turns to Breaking Bad, Suits, Game of Thrones, they’ve all passed me by. However recently myself and my husband did get completely hooked on The Crown. For those of you who haven’t become addicted yet, the series follows the life of our Queen from childhood and throughout her adult life. While it is a fascinating insight into the Royal Family I’ve also found myself intrigued by the roles of those in service of the queen, her servants and household staff. From the men who silently wait to open and close doors, to the head of staff, from the chauffeurs to the press officers, these men and women have one thing in common. They have put their choice, preferences and for many their life to one side in order to serve the crown. Their job is to do the Royal family’s bidding despite the cost to their own personal life.
That is the nature of a servant. It is one who knows his life isn’t his. That he exists in that moment to serve someone else. That’s what Jesus did. That’s who Jesus became when he came to earth. I don’t know about you but I find that pretty mind-blowing and overwhelming.
The rest of the passage goes on to talk about Jesus’ power and authority: in assuming a servant’s role Jesus didn’t lose His identity as the Son of God. In fact he was so certain of his relationship with his father that he could take this nature of a servant without it threatening his identity. Paul holds Jesus up as the perfect example of selflessness and a life lived for others. Leading on from his challenge which we read yesterday to value others before ourselves, Paul is using Jesus as an example of how, when we do this, we don’t need to worry about our own identity, standing or worth.
Choosing to put others first can sometimes feel risky. Our human nature says ‘protect yourselves’, ‘look after number one’ therefore when we choose to prefer another or make ourselves less, it’s easy for a little voice to jump into our head and say ‘but who will look after you?’ or ‘they’re going to take advantage of you’ or maybe ‘if you do that they won’t appreciate it’. Jesus’s example says ‘do it anyway’, take the risk, prefer others, your value with God is fixed, you have nothing to prove, nothing to protect.
Let’s have an experiment today: what about we all try to prefer three people today? Maybe we could let someone go in front of us in a line, give our husband or wife the nicest looking portion of pudding, speak well of someone at work rather than talking about our own work or project. I wonder how it will make us feel?
Jesus thank you that in you we have the perfect example of serving and preferring others. Help us to show your love to those around us, to put down our own wants and needs and look to put others first.
READING: PHILIPPIANS 2:5-11
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming 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 acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.