Sunday, October 25, 2015

How much lower

There are two attitudes one will have in life, and all of us alternate between them. They are real opposites, unwilling of any mixing of themselves, except when we move from one to the other, and then it only appears that they merge. I call these attitudes ‘high’ and ‘low.’ Not only are they attitudes, they are states, but being expressed they can be called attitudes. ‘High’ has nothing low about it, and ‘low’ has nothing high. They are not each other and cannot be, nor can they meet, nor merge, nor integrate. High is high, and low is low. This is the nature of being itself. Well, until Jesus Christ came, that’s how it was. There was no room for anything else.

In Jesus Christ, the ‘high’ was made ‘low’ and in a manner that no human explanation has ever adequately described. We never saw it coming. We couldn’t have. We still can’t understand how it’s possible. All our thinking is based on slides, on gradual shift, on evolution, on observable metamorphosis. We think we can understand how humanity might have evolved from lower life forms, and we fantasize about what lies ahead on our evolutionary path. It is still inconceivable that the ‘high’—or whatever it is that created and governs what exists—can enter, or manifest as, or simply be, the ‘low’—for in spite of ourselves, most of us think that’s what mankind is, ‘dust in the wind.’

We read, ‘His state was divine, yet He did not cling to His equality with God but emptied Himself to assume the condition of a slave’ (Philippians 2:6-7), and we ask ourselves, ‘How much lower can you get?’ In our modern world slavery is not even supposed to exist, but we all seem to know what it means. Perhaps slavery isn’t as dead as we thought. Perhaps it’s still happening among us under a different name. ‘At any rate,’ we say to ourselves, ‘I won’t let that happen to me.’ This speaker has the ‘high’ attitude. He won’t do something for nothing. He won’t go out of his way to help a stranger or friend. He’s out for number one—himself. His first question is always, ‘What’s in it for me?’

If we believe what the Bible says about Christ, do we also believe what it says about us? Or do we shrug that part off—sin—with an innocent sounding, ‘What sin? I haven’t done anything wrong,’ and then go our merry way, doing what seems good in our own eyes? After all, we’re all good people, really, very, very good. We can have the ‘high’ attitude without even realizing it, talking to ourselves like this. We may even think we have the ‘low’ attitude because of our occasional ‘good deed.’ But only if we don’t read the Bible. That horrible book—though we love to praise it, talk about it, even worship its syllables—can luckily have no effect on us if we don’t read it, and so we don’t. There! That was easy!

It tells us of a ‘high’ God who became ‘low’ and that’s fine. Let’s stop reading there, because if we read a little more it might tell us something about us, how much lower we might have to go ourselves. No, that wouldn’t do. We’re satisfied to be ‘high’ while pretending to be ‘low’ just as we’ve learned to parrot our sinfulness so we can pretend to be saved. But what does the apostle say?

‘Though I am not a slave of any man I have made myself a slave to everyone so as to win as many as I could. I made myself a Jew to the Jews, to win the Jews; that is, I who am not a subject of the Law made myself a subject of the Law to those who are subjects of the Law, to win those who are subject to the Law.

‘To those who have no Law, I was free of the Law myself (though not free from God’s law, being under the law of Christ) to win those who have no Law. For the weak, I made myself weak. I made myself all things to all men in order to save some at any cost; and I still do this, for the sake of the gospel, to have a share in its blessings’

(1 Corinthians 9:19-23).

Who but an apostle could say such things about himself? How much lower could a person sink than to say things like that, let alone do them? That is really having a ‘low’ attitude. Aside from being too impractical, who has time for such things? And what’s in it for me? This is why I wrote at the outset, ‘high’ and ‘low’ have nothing to do with each other.

A better way to put it is in the words of Jesus, ‘No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other’ (Matthew 6:24). Yes, He is speaking about God versus money, but what is money, or mammon in the original text, but that which can keep us propped up on our ‘high’ chair, our throne? And what happens when we intend to serve God and carry out our intention? Who sits on the throne, and who serves, and who is served? ‘A man who does not love the brother that he can see cannot love God, whom he has never seen’ (John 4:20).

Yes, how much lower can you get?

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