A Huge Drop in Status
In the mid 1990's I drove a taxicab in Lincoln, NE and had a very interesting passenger one day. He was a former General in the Iraqi Army and he'd basically been in exile since the fall of the regime of Saddam Hussein. You could also say he was a very unhappy man.
Here was his dilemma ...
He told me that while he was in Iraq he had the respect of everyone he came in contact with. Being an Army General carries a certain amount of status, perhaps even more than in the U.S.
His problem was no one knew about his importance, and even after learning he'd been a General, it got no more of a response here in the U.S. than if he'd said he owned a donut shop down the street. This was because his accomplishments from his former life meant nothing here. Americans aren't in awe of the Iraqi Army like the average Iraqi citizen is.
Your Wish, My Command
I mean think about the changes.
As a General you'd be accustomed to:
- People standing at attention whenever you walked into a room
- People obeying your every word
- Fear and trembling from anyone you wanted to confront
- Being automatically given priority seating everywhere you went
- Other gifts and perks
Here in America?
No more respect than if you were a nobody - because in a sense - now you would be. No more importance than that of a stranger.
This man was depressed. He was having difficulty accepting his new found lack of status. He didn't like being ordinary.
The Mind of Christ
Contrast that with the servant attitude of Jesus.
Of all the depictions of Christ in Scripture you'd be hard pressed to find a more eloquent portrayal of Christ's humility than a passage in the book of Phillipians, the second chapter (although Isa. 53 just came to mind). Here's how it reads:
"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus, Who being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.
And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." Phil 2:5-8
What a wonderful glimpse these verses give us into the heart and character of God!
The Condescension of Christ
Isn't it an amazing contrast, when you put the attitude of the General and the attitude of Christ side by side?
Jesus, our Creator (see Eph 3:9) had an exact opposite take on His 'exile'.
In heaven, Jesus enjoyed the adoration and willing obedience of angels. And He was the ultimate 'Head of State', towering over any General . In Revelation we're told Jesus will soon return as "King of Kings" and "Lord of Lords" (Rev. 19:16). It doesn't get more exalted than that.
Yet this same Jesus was made "a little lower than the angels" for you and me, that He might "taste death for everyone". (Heb 2:9)
And how did Jesus view His lowered status while here on earth?
- He never sought the highest place
- He never used force or compulsion
- He had compassion for all
- He was a servant to all
- He died for all
And the above doesn't even scratch the surface. Words cannot express the amazing love of a God who "came unto His own, and His own did not receive Him". John 1:11 He was "despised and rejected of men", yet He "opened not His mouth". Isa 53:3,7
And when we nailed the Son of God, (and the Son of man) to a cross, He said, "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do". Luke 23:34
I only have one question ...
Can You Love a God Like That?
About the Author:Virgil Stanphill is a lay pastor and author. His newly released book, "The Battlefield Of The Will - Why We Keep Doing What We Don't Want To Do", is a help for Christians who are struggling with their faith or are discouraged and about to give up. It's also an excellent reference for any one who ministers to Christians who struggle with guilt. You can start getting help by reading the Introduction