Word for the day by Christian Education Forum
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.(V.6,7)
The book of Philippians is recognized as an authentic letter of the apostle Paul and is dated around the years 58-60, as it was written while Paul was in prison. Chapter 2:6-8 speak of Jesus’ act of humbling himself. He humbles himself by being born as a human, and thus, taking the form of a doulou meaning slave. The form of a slave does not only denote a lowly position, but also means a life of service to others. Paul introduces himself and Timothy as ‘douloi of Jesus Christ’ in the salutation(1:1) , thus claiming his own status as a slave in emulation of the humility of Christ. The role of a slave is characterized by obedience in verse 8. Just as Jesus was obedient to God, we are called to be obedient as well.
This slave-like obedience does not, however, call for Christians to be doormats to the world. We are called to be slaves insofar as we are called to humble ourselves totally to a life of servitude to God, but that life should not be modeled on modern conceptions of slavery, which require a total loss of agency, freedom, and personal wellbeing. We are to be under God alone, who, in return, does not will a life of suffering and injustice for us. Being a ‘slave’ of God in fact uplifts one to stand up against the earthly powers that be.
A correct understanding of obedience is incredibly important to the flourishing of human beings. Chung Hyun Kyung, in her book “Struggle to be the Sun Again,” highlights the ways in which the concept of obedience has been misappropriated in order to demand the subordination of Asian women. The servant hood of Jesus, which is exalted in the verses selected for today, has been used to excuse the suffering of women. ‘Like Jesus’ who was ‘obedient to his Father,’ Asian women are expected be obedient to their fathers, as well as their husbands, brothers, and all other men. Jesus’ suffering was salvific and necessary for the good of humanity, so the suffering of women must be good as well.
But this suffering, under the yoke of patriarchy, is not what humans are called by God to endure. Jesus’ servant hood was not of submission or obedience to earthly powers, but the rejection of them. Obedience can easily become an oppressive force when it is not informed by the basic tenants of Christianity, namely, the love of God and of one another. The ‘obedience’ of Pilate to the opinion of the public led him against his conscience to execute Jesus. The obedience of Jesus, on the other hand, was dynamic and thoughtful. It broke down barriers as he touched those considered impure by society, ate with prostitutes and tax collectors, and kept women amongst his closest followers. This is the obedience that we are called to emulate.
Prayer: Dear Jesus. Help us to follow your example of obedience so that we will share your love and compassion to all people…Amen
Thought for the day: Look to the Cross – then obey
Amenda Elizabeth Mathew