Grasping the Incarnation

Philippians 2:5-8 is a profound meditation on the significance of what happened on the first Christmas—the Incarnation. Christ did not think equality with God something (I would translate) “to cling to,” but emptied himself, taking on the form of a servant and being obedient even to death on the Cross. This statement, though, is not the main point of the passage; it is there in support of Paul’s exhortation in verse 2 for the Church to be of one mind—which it can only be by having the mindset that Christ had when he made that supreme sacrifice.

Two lessons leap out from this text. First, unity of mind in the Church around its Master, its mission, and its message must be supremely important. (Around anything else, it doesn’t matter at all.) Second, only by having the mind of Christ is such unity possible for naturally selfish and contentious human beings.

How was Christ able to give up so much? The key is in that cryptic word “grasped.” He did not think equality with God something he had to cling to, to hold onto with a death-grip. Why not? Because he was completely secure in the Father’s love.

When we truly have the mind of Christ, we will have the same security, and hence we’ll no longer feel a need to cling to our selfish desires or our egos or even our innocent preferences when they come into conflict with the Church’s mission.

We must meditate on this deeply and often.

Donald T. Williams Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of Toccoa Falls College and the author of Deeper Magic: The Theology Behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis (Square Halo Books, 2016) and Ninety-Five Theses for a New Reformation: A Road Map for Post-­Evangelical Christianity (Semper Reformanda Publications, 2021).

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