2000-12-20 - Christmas Demotion
Philippians 2:6 (NCV) Christ himself was like God in everything. But he did not think that being equal with God was something to be used for his own benefit.
Christmas is approaching quickly. For some of us, it is a time of happiness mixed with sadness. We Christians are certainly joyful about celebrating the birth of the Christ child. At the same time, there are empty chairs at the dinner table. Maybe this year will be the first one for a vacant chair around your family's table. Lost loved ones, broken homes and illnesses are represented by the empty chairs and the silence that rings in our ears.
Every year as my family decorates our Christmas tree, my face reflects back to me from an ornament hanging on the tree. As I look at my reflection, I remember the Christmas that my grandfather died. As kids, we tried to be happy by making funny faces appear on the round colorful balls hanging from the tree at Grandmother's house. That was over thirty-five years ago, yet the powerful emotions of Christmas make memories linger on.
My family has many traditions. These traditions are the constants during the hectic time around Christmas. Christmas Eve morning, my mom has always prepared a huge brunch before we exchange presents. This year will be different, as my mom can no longer eagerly go from table to table saying, "more food, more drink, and can I get you anything else?" I used to say, "Sit down and eat, mother!" As debilitating stages of Parkinson's disease play tricks on her nervous system and her muscle functions, I won't have to tell her to sit down and eat. It won't be the same, but at least she will be there this year.
Christmas must bring bittersweet memories for God the Father. I cannot imagine a pain greater than losing a child. I do know the great joy and blessing of seeing my own children born. I cannot imagine God sending His Son, knowing that He would be killed.
Philippians 2:7 (NCV) But he gave up his place with God and made himself nothing. He was born to be a man and became like a servant.
Don't skim over the above verse. Jesus was equal in every way with God. Grasp the significance. Jesus gave up His place with God. He was there before the beginning of time, receiving the praises of the angels. He gave up his position to become like you and me. Would you and I have done that?
The Christ child's birth was a divine demotion. It is hard for us to understand as we scratch, claw and climb ladders for promotions in the world. Christ was counterintuitive in every way. Why? He became like us, to share all our emotions and experiences. He became like us to be able to be a very personal God --- A God that fully understands us spiritually, emotionally and physically. He became like us, to die for all of us.
Philippians 2:8 (NCV) And when he was living as a man, he humbled himself and was fully obedient to God, even when that caused his death-death on a cross.
If painful memories and sad emotions grip your heart this Christmas season, I pray you will remember the divine demotion that Christ took for us. Whatever emotion you are feeling, He has felt. Whatever troubles you, He has been there. Friends and family members sometimes abandon us, but He never does. Those of us who are Christ-followers know that we truly have a friend in the Christ child.
John 15:15 (NCV) I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know what his master is doing. But I call you friends.
Lord, help us to focus on that Babe in a manger, Who could have come as a ruling King, but instead humbled himself -- even to death -- to become one of us. Thank You for giving us a Savior Who knows our troubles and our faults yet still calls us friends. In His precious name we pray. Amen.