In a marvelous moment of awe, one of my students said it best:
“Jesus made himself so insignificant.”
The comment came during a discussion about humanity’s constant anxiety about self-worth. As humans we seem to have a need to know that we are important… that we have significance. It’s as if we know we should be of value… but either we feel like we aren’t… or we feel like others don’t recognize that we are. This insecurity sometimes results in our assumption of rights over and against another’s (eg Bullying, Despotism). At other times this results in puffing up our own ego, through self-delusion or un-ending achievement (eg Pride, Perfectionism, Power). None of these compensations produces fulfillment for our deficiency. What we lack is the ability to rest, to trust, to celebrate the dignity of others while being content within ourselves.
As a result we get caught up in packaging, performance and presentation. We hear what we want with our insecure ears… and we like what we see with our self-obscured eyes. With our disproportionate souls we thirst for our own need to “become someone”, to “make something of ourselves”, to “prove ourselves”… and we project these fleeting dreams onto those around us.
So it is alarming, disarming and disturbing even, that Jesus would make himself insignificant. Jesus = humble? Jesus = slave? Jesus = obedience? Jesus = criminal? Jesus = death? Jesus = cross?
5 You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.
6 Though he was God,
he did not think of equality with God
as something to cling to.
7 Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
he took the humble position of a slave
and was born as a human being.
When he appeared in human form,
8 he humbled himself in obedience to God
and died a criminal’s death on a cross. – Philippians 2:5-7 NLT
Jesus is so counter-cultural he disrupts our priorities of importance. While we grow tired from the dance to prove ourselves, we miss the point that we are supposed to be like Jesus, to “have the same attitude” that Jesus had: Intentionally making ourselves less so that others could be made more. When it came time to act, Jesus did the opposite of what our insecure inclinations would tell us to do. And in so doing, profoundly, Jesus proved just how great he is… and just how much we are worth.