By NEMS Daily Journal
Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,
who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death –
even death on a cross.
Therefore God also highly exalted him
and gave him the name
that is above every name,
so that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
– Philippians 2:5-11
Election years, especially presidential and congressional ones, typically display the egos of candidates in both parties and political independents as much as the spirit of freedom.
The spin doctors employed by the parties and candidates often become little more than snarling dogs on camera or mic, a liability of trying to make serious issues entertaining.
It’s especially distasteful when most of the candidates – in both parties – talk about God and Jesus out of one side and call their opponents everything except good on the other.
The New Testament doesn’t talk about democracy. It was compiled exclusively in the context of the Roman Empire, which had legal slavery, as well as early converts who owned slaves, which was biblically sanctioned.
So, when the Apostle Paul writes in his letters and talks about servanthood and slavery, it is against a double background.
Paul broadened his discussion to include all behavior and attitudes expected of the new religion founded by a man named Jesus of Nazareth, who willingly sacrificed himself on a Roman cross.
Paul expressed his thoughts clearly in a letter to the Christian community in Philippi, a city in eastern Macedonia, established by Philip II in 356 BCE and abandoned in the 14th century after the Ottoman conquest of the region. As historical footnote, Philip II was the father of Alexander the Great.
What Paul said to the Philippian Christians was as foreign as it was to the Roman overlords who ruled the city in the 1st century CE.
Overt power, he said, doesn’t win in the end.
The prolific translator and commentator William Barclay wrote of the passage Philippians 2:5-11, “The great characteristics of Jesus’ life were humility, obedience, and self-renunciation. He did not desire to dominate …; he desired only to serve …”
Barclay continues: He did not seek his way, but God’s. He did not desire to exalt himself, only God. He desired to renounce his glory for the sake of humankind.
The stinger from Barclay’s translation and understanding is this:
“If humility, obedience and self-renunciation were the supreme characteristics of the life of Jesus Christ, then they must also be the hallmarks of the Christian …”
Thus, no attitude of entitlement over others, no vain self-seeking, no gain by imposing personal will on others or the community, and no exaltation of self is acceptable.
Everyone in 2012 who claims Christianity should swallow hard and take a look inward and compare personal attitudes with the man known as the Christ.
Jesus wins the hearts and minds of people, not by blasting them with power and ridicule, but showing them a love, self-sacrifice and self-renunciation that is heart-changing, Barclay wrote in his commentary.
The 1st century and the 21st are identical in their disdain for servanthood, but the fact is the best and the brightest of the past 2,000-plus years have ethically, morally followed the way of Jesus and not the egos and empires of the world.