"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." John 1:14

Monday, April 7, 2014

Exalted Matters

Mary, my wife, has had a couple of chance encounters with celebrities. At a music camp in a remote location, I found her sitting at a table with one of the male stars of the television series, "Lost." On one of our jaunts to a Nashville music store, she complimented a young man on his choice of guitars--without realizing it was Brad Paisley. My wife: celebrity magnet.

The rarity of these coincidences aside, what we noticed most were the gentle, humble personalities of these men. The Lost star was in several music classes with me and, actually seemed a bit insecure, frequently whispering in my ear, "Do I sound okay?" Mr. Paisley, incognito in standard ball cap, blue jeans and tee shirt, could have been any guy on the block. He accepted Mary's compliment with grace and wished us a nice day. I know men in my own community whose life stance is, "Do you know who I am?" But these celebrities did not need to flaunt their fame or superiority. They walked among us as fellow humans, laying aside any celebrity status.

The second chapter of Philippians contains one of the most beautiful chapters in the New Testament, which speaks of an even more dramatic example of this principle. The apostle Paul is encouraging the believers in Philippi to adopt the same attitude. Not only does it speak to how we should do life, it speaks volumes about Christ:

Philippians 2:5-11
New International Version (NIV)
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.

He is, in his very nature--God! In terms of rank, he is equal with God. And because of his willingness to empty himself, to become one of us, submitting to God the Father all the way to the cross, God has given him a place of exaltation--a name above all names and a promise that every knee will bow and acknowledge him as Lord.

Jesus Christ is not just a man who practiced holiness and became like God. He was God before he came to earth. He is not merely another great philosopher, though his teaching changed the world. He is not just another prophet, foretelling the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the age, he is the fulfillment of all prophecies. He is not our buddy, our therapist or, our imaginary friend. He is God and exalted King.

The love of God is seen in this--while living in perfect bliss in heavenly realms, Father, Son and Spirit colluded in a conspiracy to restore fellowship with a fallen world and its broken inhabitants. God loves the world this much: He gave his only Son so that whoever believes in him will never perish, having eternal life. Your decision about whether you believe this or not is yours, he gives you that freedom. But your decision about who he is does not change who he is, any more than our initial belief that Brad Paisley was just another guy cancelled out his true identity.

One thing about that decision? What you choose to believe about Jesus has eternal consequences for you. Choose wisely.

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