My family is pretty immense. At the risk of making my parents sound like members of the Borg collective, they are both one of five. So that’s eight sets of aunties and uncles before you’ve even started. I stopped counting at 20 cousins.
We are also a pretty diverse bunch; a mix of races, sexualities, educational attainment, geography, tastes and lifestyles.
With a family that big it’s never very long between ‘occasions’ and the fact that we all enjoy celebrating together regularly is a powerful testament to how our mutual love, affection and shared history totally trumps our differences and holds us all together. Nice.
This gets me thinking about the breath-taking diversity in God’s creation and the immense, unfathomably creative power that must be holding all that together; connecting us to each other and to Him.
In the bible, God challenges this guy called Job with some heavyweight questions about His power over the universe. Imagining myself being confronted with some of these questions, could go like this:
God: Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth?
Me: How about ‘no’?
God: Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place….?
Me: Erm….nope again.
God: Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons?
If you’ve ever seen the film Bruce Almighty, you’ll know the scene where Bruce first realises that the entirety of the power of God has been given to him. What does he do? Drenched deep in a sense of his own powerlessness, he uses God’s power big himself up. Who wouldn’t, right?
“Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing.”
– Philippians 2:6-7
The thing that blows me away about this is that Jesus – he through whom all things were made – made himself nothing.
Here we have Jesus, the creator of the universe, with infinite unspeakable power, imagination, resources and time – the very ‘hands that flung stars into space’ – choosing to make himself nothing, so that I – we – could be ‘something’.
Humility personified. Love to the power of nothing.
We often think of and experience power as something too compelling not to use. Power is so often something that we want in order to get gains in our own direction; something that allows us to control people and events for our benefit or advantage.
Not Jesus. Apparently, ‘down is the new up.’
When he ‘turns it on’, power is always for the benefit of others. Motivated by love, he can choose to announce his power in the wonder of creation for his glory and our amazement, and he can also choose to withhold his power when it’s necessary for our ultimate good.
And on the cross, Jesus held back on the chance to use his immense power to save his own life in that moment, so that God’s bigger picture of salvation through grace could be revealed through Jesus rising from the dead three days later.
I wouldn’t consider myself to be particularly powerful as a human being, but this challenges me deeply. How humble am I in the face of any power I might have? Am I more like Bruce, tempted to wield it for shits and giggles? Or am I ready and willing to humble myself, as Jesus did, for the sake of the bigger picture, and for the benefit of others? Think on.