By sending His Son, God modeled for us how to heal a broken relationship. It isnt done through negotiation or compromise. It will almost never happen if we wait for the other person to take the first stepeven if we are the offended party to whom an apology is due. Because what is required is so selfless and painful almost no one is willing to do it. It requires a decision to put another persons needs ahead of my own, to think of them as more important than myself.
We might not think of Philippians 1:29-2:11 as a passage about Christmas, but it is. Paul is telling us why Jesus, Gods divine Son, was willing to leave heaven to become a man. He says Jesus had a choice, He didnt have to come. The Father didnt order Him to leave heaven and become a man, He asked Him to do it. And thankfully Jesus said yes, and He did so for a very specific reason: love
for His Father, but also for us. And when the Bible talks about love (agape), the word doesnt mean merely feeling warm, positive emotions. In fact, real love may involved very painful emotions because real love causes us to lay down our own rights, even our own life if necessary, for someone else. This is the love that Jesus modeled on Christmas, and Paul asks us to think deeply about what Jesus did and then to love each other with that same kind of love. What he is asking of us is actually amazingly difficult. Listen:
it was given to you on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer on His behalf, for you are enduring the same struggle (agony) which you saw me endure when I was there in Philippi, and hear is happening to me now (in prison).
c2v1: If therefore, there is any exhortation that comes from the example of Christ, if there is any comfort that comes from the kind of love (agape) with which He has loved us, if there is any common partaking together of that same spirit which we saw in Him, if in any way His example stirs up within us feelings of compassion and the desire to be merciful toward others,
v2: make my joy complete by thinking like He thought, by having within yourself the same selfless love He had, by becoming completely united with Him (one soul), desiring only one thing,
v3: doing nothing with the attitudes of a day-laborer who only serves someone else if he gets paid, nor for your own personal glory, but by thinking of yourself as less important considering others as more important than ourselves,
v4: not each one watching out for his own concerns, but each one also watching out for the concerns of others.
vs5-8: Have the same attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, beginning in form as God, did not consider being equal with God something to be grasped, but emptied Himself out taking on the form of a slave, becoming in the likeness of men. And being found in outward appearance as a man He humbled Himself becoming obedient to the will of His Father until it led Him to death, even death on a cross.
vs9-11: Because of this, God also highly-exalted Him and gave Him the name above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee of heavenly beings and those that dwell upon the earth and those that dwell under the ground, should bow, and every tongue should speak out the same thing, that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.
What happened on Christmas
Reconciliation is very expensive. It requires us to love like Jesus loved, to put our own needs aside and do whatever we can (that is righteous, pleasing to God) to show another human being that God loves them, to model grace, to let them experience Gods forgiving mercy through us. We become the human vessel, the flesh and blood through whom God calls broken people to Himself. By our words and our acts of undeserved kindness, people experience how God will treat them if they come to Him in repentance. This is what Jesus was trying to tell us when He said things like this:
Matthew 5:38-48 You have heard that it was said
Hes not teaching us to allow ourselves to be senselessly abused. There are things we must not permit others to do to us. But there are many situations in which He will ask us to take the first step to reconcile, to lay down our pride, to set aside our rights, to even make costly sacrifices in order to reach out to someone who is alienated from God or from us. The process can be very humbling and very stressful. Our minds may bombard us with excuses as to why we shouldnt do this, which is why Paul talked so much about our minds. He said there is only one reason strong enough to withstand all these inner arguments: and thats the desire to be like Jesus. This is what He did
on Christmas! He put aside His divine privileges: His omniscience, His omnipotence, His omnipresence, the glories of heaven, the worship of the saints and the angels
to become one of us, so He could die for all of us, so God would not have to give us the justice we deserved, but He could give us the mercy He longed to give. Jesus put our needs ahead of His own.
So, this eventing, we can respond in two ways:
1) First, if we have not already done so, we can receive Jesus gift of Himself by faith.
2) And second, we can choose to love somebody else like He loved us, which means we too will put aside our own needs and reach out in love, we will treat people the way Jesus would treat them. Through us they will get to see love through another human being.