You Can Do Anything (When Nothing Is Beneath You)

Hands togetherPhilippians 2:1-13

(See also, Daily Reading comments on Philippians 2:1-4 and Philippians 2:13-15.)

So then, if Jesus encourages you, if love comforts you, if you would share a greater purpose, if you yearn for community, then I’d rejoice to see you work through your differences, love one another, stick together, and find points of agreement. Don’t do things just to promote yourself; try to give someone else a lift. And, among you, it’s not “every man for himself,” rather seek the common good.

Be like Jesus:

Being as God, for him, wasn’t the point.
Instead he gave himself away,
Becoming a nobody, becoming human.

And being fully human, nothing was beneath him –
Not even, to achieve God’s aim, crucifixion.

So God esteemed him,
And put his name first on the list.
This is why we bow to him,
Whether we’re in heaven, on earth, or in the pits.
This is why we call him our Leader.

So then, as you have always done as I have asked, not only when I was with you, but also since I’ve been gone, I’m asking you now to do the work. Your salvation is in our own hands; and God’s desire for good finds expression in your longings and in your work.

It’s widely agreed that the central poem here is probably a hymn sung in the first generation church. In the original, I’m sure it was beautiful and mystical. But the message in the music is that to be divine, that to really and fully live, one must become fully human. That’s what Jesus did. That’s what Paul says those who follow him must do.

It makes perfect sense. We’re human; humanity is all we’ve got. So long as we try to be something else, that something else isn’t real but a fantasy, a projection, an empty wish.

I’m convinced that if church (or any other institution) could be more about getting in touch with our humanity rather than trying to buy an entrance into heaven, it would be more successful. Not to mention more faithful.

The power of being fully human is highly underestimated by many people. But as the hymn suggests, once you are fully human, that’s when you can do anything to achieve a greater, even divine, goal. The first generation church realized that this was what the life and death of Jesus demonstrated. And it was so powerful they called its discovery, “Resurrection.”