Presbyterians Today

OCT-NOV 2017

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Pr e s by te r i a n s To d ay | OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2017 47 Jesus could have been beloved like Swift or dominat- ing like Batman or have unlimited power and money. But instead of making decisions that benefited himself, he chose self-surrender. He gave up everything in heaven to become human. He humbled himself and became a peasant carpenter. Jesus hung out with the outcasts — the poor and the sick, the needy and the powerless. When his care for them threatened the powers that be, he didn't change his plan to save his own hide. He humbled himself again, setting his face toward Jerusalem and remaining obedient to his mission. Christ served humanity instead of himself again and again, finally humbling himself to the point of death on a cross. Jesus' self-surrender is part of his troublemak- ing nature, which insists on countering our self-centered dreams of fame and fortune. We may long to swim through life with popularity or riches, but Jesus troubles these waters. His example challenges us to center our- selves on others. Paul tells us that in the end God exalted humble Jesus, so that at his name every knee should bend and every tongue confess that he is Lord. It is fitting that this passage is the lectionary text for World Communion Sunday (Oct. 1), because at the table we celebrate this exalted Christ who took the trouble to serve us every step of the way. Chip Hardwick is the director of Theology, Formation & Evangelism for the PC(USA). W WJD: What would Jesus do? A few years ago these initials were quite a fad. Many of us wore bracelets bearing that abbreviation so that every time we glanced at them, we'd think about what Jesus would do in whatever situation we were in, and that would tell us how we should act. After all, Jesus is a great example. Of course, he's much more than a good example — he's also savior, Lord, redeemer and friend. But he is also the absolute paragon of what Christians' lives look like when God thinks we're at our best. Theologian Alister McGrath puts it like this: "[One] particular significance of Christ resides in his being an example of a godly life — that is, a life which resonates with the divine will for humanity." This in turn sounds a lot like Paul, who tells us in Philippians 2:5: Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus. We are to be like Jesus. But what does this mean? Thankfully, Philippians 2 goes on to tell us what Jesus models for us, in a section of the passage often called the Christ hymn: 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 . Jesus chose humility. He made a decision to become a servant, with cosmic implications that echo down through eternity. If we had the choice to be anyone we wanted, would we choose Jesus' path? Recently the website Reddit asked, "If you could be anyone for 24 hours, who would you be and why?" Here are some of the answers: "Taylor Swift, so I could be America's sweetheart for 24 hours." "Batman. Because, Batman. And Money." "Whatever God there is, if there is one … If you're god then you can do anything you want. Magically make money appear in my bank account, conquer countries, eliminate ISIS, give my human self unlim- ited power. The possibilities are endless!" Choosing who we want to be Jesus as our example Chip Hardwick | BIBLE EXPLORATIONS: HOLY TROUBLEMAKERS QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION OR DISCUSSION: • What is one tangible difference you could make in your life in order to have the "same mind that was in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 2:5)? • How does Paul's description of Jesus in Philippians 2:6–11 trouble your longings and dreams? • How can you choose humility in your daily life?

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