We encourage you to read all of Philippians 2 each day this week. As you do today, focus on verses 9-11, printed below.
9 Therefore, God highly honored him
and gave him a name above all names,
10 so that at the name of Jesus everyone
in heaven, on earth, and under the earth might bow
11 and every tongue confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
This might seem a confusing turnabout. Was Jesus’ “humility” that we read about yesterday just a ruse to get honor and glory after all? No. Scholar William Barclay wrote, “Jesus won the hearts of [people], not by blasting them with power, but by showing them a love they could not resist…. Worship is founded, not on fear, but on love.”* As Pastor Hamilton often reminds us, the king we serve wore a crown of thorns, and reigns from a cross.
Lord Jesus, you are “Lord,” the ruler of the entire universe. And that honor is yours because you lived out the divine power of self-giving love. I bow before you in wonder and worship. Amen.
* William Barclay, The Letters to the Philippians, Colossians and Thessalonians (Revised Edition). Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1975, p.39.
** Wright, N.T., Paul for Everyone, The Prison Letters: Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon (The New Testament for Everyone) (p. 104). Westminster John Knox Press. Kindle Edition.
As I write this, I am beginning my 34th trip around the sun. Today is my birthday! When we are children, we always wonder why adults seem to fear aging. What is so bad about getting older?! More freedom, authority over your own life, money to spend, etc. Adulthood looks pretty good to a kid!
While none of us relish the idea of getting one year closer to what is ultimately our bodily end, I think there is another reason us “grown-ups” can’t muster up the same enthusiasm for a birthday. Twice a year each of us is given a proverbial fresh start—New Year’s Day, and our birthday. A brand-new year to correct all the things that are not “right” in our lives. Maybe we haven’t figured out what we want to be when we grow up, we haven’t started that business venture we can’t stop thinking about, we haven’t lost the weight or saved the money or bought the house or met the right person—the list goes on and is deeply personal. Don’t get me wrong, birthdays are still fun and a time for celebration, but I personally know that each year I also have a small tinge of anxiety and regret about the things not yet accomplished. We come into adulthood with all these expectations for ourselves, then life starts hitting us hard and many times our bucket lists and dreams for ourselves fly right out the window.
This morning during my quiet time, I could not help by reflect on how I am now officially older than Jesus was when He was crucified. I have had a good life, and while not every decision I’ve made is one I am proud of, I’ve learned hard lessons and ultimately am grateful to live the life I have. In 33 years walking this earth, Jesus accomplished enough that God gave Him the name above ALL names and said EVERY knee will bow to Him. When you consider His sinless existence, His endless patience, His soft but powerful rebukes, His absolute unending love for His people, it is easy to think, “I will never get there”. How can any of us live up?
When I am talking with someone who has not come to faith, my go-to challenge to them is to just give Christianity a shot. Skepticism is welcome, but just give it a shot. There is nothing to lose. Give God a chance to show up in your life. I know I can challenge anyone this because I KNOW in my bones that if they give it a chance, God will come through. I know that because that is MY story. I chose to give God a chance in a dark place in my life and miracles started happening for me. I know that is possible for anyone else, too. When I started honoring God with my life, things started to change for me. That is the core of almost every Christian’s story I’ve heard.
Each of us has an ache in our soul that can only be fulfilled with God. We tend to feel that ache more around big life occasions, but it is always there, trying to expand its darkness. We all know people and likely even we ourselves have tried to fit other things into that Jesus-shaped hole in our hearts. Every time, we are acutely disappointed when it does not fit. Jesus came to earth to show us how to live so that God could fill that spot in our hearts. God honored Jesus and our lives and actions should honor Jesus, too.
How can we honor Jesus? What can I do so that in 33 more years, I look back on my time and feel good about what I’ve done? How can we leave that anxiety, fear, and regret behind? We need to live like Him. “With humility think of others as better than yourselves”. Jesus came to earth to be a servant and He left this earth at the right hand of God with the name above ALL names. Verse 11 tells us that one day the name of Jesus will be put forth and everything in creation will respond —what will your response be?
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