Thursday, August 4, 2016
You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. 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, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:5-11(NLT)
G. Campbell Morgan was a very well-known early 20th century evangelist and pastor of Westminster Chapel in London. He was in poor health from childhood. Once he went through a particularly painful period and became very depressed. He went to see his friend, missionary Joseph Parker. Parker told him: Never mind, son; your people will get the benefit. In some way, Morgan’s suffering would become his congregation’s gain.
What Joseph Parker was talking about was vicarious suffering. When you suffer, and someone else is benefitted by that suffering, the gift of the benefit is bestowed vicariously, or as a substitute. Parents suffer vicariously at times for their children. Soldiers in battle suffer vicariously for the folks back home. When a Christian gives time, effort, or financial resources sacrificially, they vicariously bless another person.
Scripture declares Jesus to be the greatest vicarious sufferer of all time. Paul’s written description of this declares that Jesus emptied himself of all heavenly privilege and became like us.
· He was divine, but lowered himself to
· He was equal with God the Father
and Spirit, but laid-aside that power
and revealed Himself as a dependent
child in a manger
· He was never guilty of anything but offered
himself to die as a common criminal
And all of that suffering was vicarious; Jesus gave up what he possessed on our behalf. He did the giving and suffering; we got the benefit.
Paul says that Christ is our model; we are to think and act like He did…and does.
In Wesleyan doctrine and practice we promise other members of the body of Christ our prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness. But in our promises there is the baseline of Pauline thought, that we must understand and appropriate the way these are offered as vicariously – sacrificially…just like Jesus gave!
As we go about doing what we do, we can and must stay alert to look for opportunities to bless others. It will be right in front of us if we keep in mind our model, the Lord Jesus.
Those were, after all, our nails they put in His hands and feet!