“Your attitude should be the same as that of 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. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient to death–even the death of the cross!” Philippians 2:5-8
As the mother said “Amen,” her five year-old son looked inquisitively at her and asked, “Mommy, why did you ask God for two heads?” Confused, she asked her son what he meant. He responded, “But mommy, you asked God to help get you a-head.”
Don’t worry, I did not find the joke funny when I heard it on the radio last week either. It did make me wonder if God would look at as with the same dumbfounded look that the 5 year old boy gave his mother, when we ask God to help us “get ahead” in life. When I read the Bible, I do not see a God wanting us to “get ahead”–to climb the ladders of success. Rather, I see a God who did the exact opposite and wants the exact opposite from us.
As a fellow minister shared with me once, his desire is to work his way down the ladder. The story of the Bible is downward mobility.
That is a Christlike mentality. Christ–the God of the universe–limited himself by putting on human flesh. Yet that still was not enough. He went a step further by dying upon the cross like a criminal, though He himself was without sin. God fulfilled His mission by letting it “die” on the cross. This is the story of the Bible, and the story God wants us to play out in our lives.
While our parents, our families, our neighbors, our bosses, and ourselves all want us to get ahead in life, God wants us to give it all up and follow Him. He wants us to use our jobs a way to demonstrate grace to others, not make money. He wants us to be concerned that 750,000 Somalians could die of starvation this year, while Americans struggle with obesity. He wants us to give ourselves away to our friends, not demand their attention. He wants us to let that other person cut us off in traffic, and us show them mercy.
How might you climb down the ladder? Are you willing to let some of your aspirations to become “obedient to death”?