divine selflessness

Gordon Fee writes about Philippians 2:5-11:

Christ’s selflessness for the sake of others expressed itself in his emptying himself by taking the “form” of a slave.  Historically, far too much has been made of the verb “emptied himself” of something.  However, just as harpagmos requires no object for Christ to “seize” but rather points to what is the opposite of God’s character, so Christ did not empty himself of anything; he simply “emptied himself,” poured himself out, as it were.  In keeping with Paul’s ordinary usage, this is metaphor, pure and simple.  What modifies it is expressed in the phrase that follows; he “poured himself out by taking on the ‘form’ of a slave.”

Elsewhere this verb regularly means to become powerless or to be emptied of significance (hence the NIV’s made himself nothing; cf.KMV, “made himself of no reputation”).  Here it stands in direct antithesis to the “empty glory” of verse 3 and functions in the same way as the metaphorical “he became poor” in 2 Corinthians 8:9.  Thus, as in the “not” side of this clause (v. 6b), we are still dealing with the character of God as revealed in the mindset and resulting activity of the Son of God.  The concern is with divine selflessness:  God is not an acquisitive being, grasping and seizing, but self-giving for the sake of others.  Gordon Fee, Philippians, The IVP New Testament Commentary Series, p. 94-95.

Stirs up worship doesn’t it?

This is Our God:



You, Success, & Exams

“Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.”

~ John Wooden, English teacher and basketball coach.  Coach Wooden’s Pyramid of Success  

John Wooden moved success from the realm of comparison with others to a kind of self-awareness or knowledge regarding the effort you have exerted.  Through the application of his view, Wooden became one of the winningest coaches in college basketball history.  He coached teams to ten national basketball championships.

Grades are a product of comparison.  While they are important for some moments and opportunities in life, they have a short shelf life.  Your character will last much longer and will go with you far beyond your university years.  Pursuing your studies for the grade is short-sighted.  Jesus Christ called for a longer view of life when He said, “And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?  Is anything worth more than your soul?”  (Matthew 16:26 NLT)

You have to be secure.

John Wooden’s definition of success and Jesus’ long-view of life requires an incredible sense of security.  Security is a product of assurance in relationships.  As Wooden grew as a coach, he sought to give a sense of security to his teams by assuring them that he wasn’t looking for wins; he really was looking for them to give their best effort on and off the court.

Assurance of God’s love for you can become a constant in your life.  At Origin, Born for More, we believe Jesus came to show God’s love for us as a reality that we can daily experience.  His love, demonstrated through the Gospel of Jesus, creates lasting security.  In His love, we don’t need to compare ourselves to another.

Jesus said, “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you.”  Jesus lived the life of “the beloved” and now invites us to live the same by receiving His love poured out for us through His death on the Cross.  God’s love becomes a constant that makes comparison less powerful and ruling.  Responding to His grace and love doesn’t destroy ambition as some might accuse.  Rather, by trusting in God’s love for you through Jesus, you will possess a security that empowers you to keep growing, keep learning, and actually risk becoming the person God created you to be, no matter “the grade.”

You were made to be loved.

We do hope you succeed on your exams.  But more than that, we hope you will experience God’s love in Christ Jesus as the constant that gives security and shapes your life.

(I wrote this article for our exam care packages that we are delivering this week at UBC.)

when everything is not enough

A wealthy, influential man came to see Jesus to ask  about the good life, eternal life (Luke 18:18-30).  He asks,  “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”  He likely had everything his context could offer him: wealth, a good reputation, a growing family, comfort, influence, respect, and servants.  When confronted with God’s commands–do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother–this big-name-family-business-man, revealed his desire for a principled and ordered life.  “All these I have kept since I was a child.”  And yet, even though he was living out their local vision of being good, even though he was living the “good life” that others coveted, this man could not escape the dis-ease in his heart, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”

If you have ever noticed that you get no lasting satisfaction from the stuff of this world, you may understand the darkness and emptiness that was in this man’s heart.  He had it all, but was not satisfied.  Perhaps, he was uncomfortable with the temporary nature of all that he was investing his life in and began to contemplate what was really out there in the future and what could really fill his heart, and if there was a really meaningful life to be had.

Please don’t miss the profound nature of the spiritual life contained in the question, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”  A big-name-family-business-man in Jesus’ day would understand the two realities  required to be the beneficiary of an inheritance.  It requires that you are born into a family of some means and second, that somebody dies.  The Christian view of the good life believes that Jesus makes both of these requirements possible.

When a person receives Jesus as the central commanding and provisionary figure of life, s/he is born into or adopted into the family of God.  Therefore the person now is part of a household of faith that shares the rich provisions, blessings, influence of our Heavenly Father.  You become a child of God with the full rights and privileges  of His household not via creation but through spiritual rebirth.  (See the related verses below.)

And in regards to the second requirement of an inheritance–someone must die, the Christian view of reality holds that Jesus’ death was meaningful for the execution of God’s will for the benefit of all who would receive Him.  Jesus was going to die for this man on the Cross.  Jesus’ death was full of meaning.  His death secured an inheritance of forgiveness of sin, fellowship with God, and the gift of the Holy Spirit so that His followers might enjoy the grace of God by faith in Him.  (See the related verses below.)

I relate to this man, not because I actual enjoy the status he had, but because I know that the attraction of money, wealth, power, and reputation seem to have death grip on us, even though our devotion to them is so futile.  We all seem to want our own kingdoms of comfort.   Jesus asked this man to exchange his devotion to wealth and himself for devotion to Jesus and service to others in Jesus’ kingdom.  “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”  Jesus told him, “You still lack one thing.  Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.  Then come, follow me.”  Give up your rights to it, give it away, and follow me.

Even though his heart was dissatisfied with all this world could offer him, the cost for satisfaction seemed too high and the man went away very sad, “because he was a man of great wealth.”  He could not yet see that Jesus far outweighed the value of everything he had.  For on the other side of the transaction Jesus called for, this man could have enjoyed life as a child of the King:  valuable relationships, meaningful living, and eternal life.  Jesus saw into this man and sympathized with the struggle and tells him, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!  Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

I hope the man reconsidered the offer.  Jesus secured an inheritance for this man.  Jesus did die to fulfill the will of the Heavenly Father.  Jesus does have a family into which we can be born by His Spirit.  Jesus’ resurrection from the dead seals the deal and marks His triumph over death and over the emptiness of living for what the world offers without God.   Whatever you are holding onto as “the thing” that will make your life full and meaningful, I urge you to loosen your fatal attraction and  grip on the stuff of this world and to embrace Jesus Christ as your Lord–your Provider, Saviour, Redeemer, and your very Life.  Through Jesus, God will cleanse you of every shameful and empty thing, and will gracefully fill your life with joy, assurance, meaning, and new confidence as His child.  He will give you a new way of living with the stuff and people of this world, so that by His Spirit you may overcome its never-ceasing competition for the allegiance of your heart.  When everything is not enough, Jesus is enough.

Jesus fulfills the requirements required so we can inherit eternal life.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade–kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shield by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.  In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kids of trials.  These have come so that your faith–of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire–may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.  Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an  inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”  1 Peter 1:3-9

“I tell you the truth, no one can see the Kingdom of God unless he is born again….the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.  For God so loved the world that he gave his only and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  John 3:3, 14-16

“…giving thanks to the Father who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.  For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”  Colossians 1:11-14

“For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.  Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behaviou.  But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemishand free from accusation…”  Colossians 1:19-22

“I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes:  first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.  For in the Gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that it is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.'”  Romans 1:16-17