When Christ took hold of Paul on the Road to Damascus and called out to Paul, he could not help but take hold of Christ. He could not but seek to imitate the One who took the “form of God, but did not count equality with God as something to be exploited, but instead emptied himself, and became human, a humble servant, obedient unto death, even death on a cross” (Phil. 2:5-8).
In Paul’s way of thinking, the reason we can take hold of Christ is because Christ has taken hold of us and called us, and this is what it looks like – a giving up and a letting go, a pressing on and straining forward.
I believe it was my seminary professor, Fred Craddock, who called this message a message of downward mobility: Jesus comes from the very heart of God, from all that was good in God. He came from the ivory places of glory, possessing all that was wonderful, and he tossed it all, becoming human, like you and me, obeying God, even unto death.
And what Paul says is, “If this is who Jesus is, then how can I still seek upward mobility? How can I keep all that I have – good and bad – and follow some other cause or movement, or leader, and remain faithful? How can I run this race with any sense of purpose?”
More to the point: How can any of us? How can I? How can I claim to be a follower of this “God in human form” and keep my own agenda, my own pride, my own stuff, and just add on “church” as it may or may not fit into my schedule, or my plans? How can I tack on my faith around the edges, and keep my life intact, when I run toward the One who gave it all up and tossed it all out, and came down here, to become a servant, for me? What kind of courage do we need to put this first? What kind of grace does God provide to reach this goal?
Because we are running the same race, aren’t we? Aren’t we? The same race? Running toward the One who has taken hold of us? If so, let’s run this race together, having the mind that was in Christ Jesus.
Pastor Andy Kinsey