This title is maybe a little click bait, but now that I have your attention….
When my friend Kevin Kane was in town a month ago, I invited him to interview a couple of women at The Well and write something about it. He interviewed Kay and Cream, two lovely women who have both been through a lot but are in a really good place.
Kevin told me that in his conversation with Kay he brought up Philippians 2, for a reason I don’t remember. That chapter has an amazing poetic summary of Paul’s understanding of Jesus, written to encourage his readers to similarly selfless thinking.
Paul’s language in verse 6 is a bit idiomatic so awkward to translate, but something like, “Who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped….” Kay read in Thai and then summarized it perfectly in English:
“Jesus didn’t need to be God.”
In monotheism the main idea that God is all-this and all-that leads people to think of bigness. And obviously the immensity of the universe and the count of hair strands on seven billion heads is staggering. But it is clear throughout the Bible that God is far more interested in our understanding the small part of his “omni-ness” more than the big. Not only are we unable to conceptually handle the big, but we turn it into a power issue, using monotheistic religious systems to control people.
In Jesus, God sets things straight. Power used to control others is meaningless, and that includes the display of power so great that simply by its use it demands allegiance. John, who spent about three years with Jesus and tells us he got a pretty good idea of His message, simply says, “God is love.” Power is simply a non-starter in John’s Gospel; in fact he rather shows Jesus as almost frustrated at the problem of not wanting attention due to power, only wanting people to know love.
This reality is very practical for we who focus on caring for people in need. The more we have worked with folks the slower we are to fix their problems. They see the power of our education, our high status as Americans with access to money, no different than the people who chased down Jesus in John 6, asking how to make free food.
Jesus didn’t need to be God. He wanted love. And the end of the story, Paul says in Philippians 2:10-11, is that He gets it, with every single living being acknowledging His bigness. But don’t think for a moment that He will ever be done with being small.