Free Building Instructions:

Phil 2:5-8 (NRSV)

Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,

who, though he was in the form of God,

    did not regard equality with God

    as something to be exploited,

but emptied himself,

    taking the form of a slave,

    being born in human likeness.

And being found in human form,

    he humbled himself

    and became obedient to the point of death—

    even death on a cross.

‘Slave’ is probably not the word we imagine being used to describe gods. Throughout history, gods are often described as these all-powerful beings with human natures, that is to say, we imagine them using their power the way we would want to use them. If someone cut me off on the highway, I would flick my finger and bat their vehicle into space. If there is a horrendous crime, the offender will be dealt with immediately and humiliated publicly. If I fancy a castle at the peak of the Rockies, I would ‘make it so’ with the point of my fingers. I would, in many ways, take my role as the superior being that my power and knowledge afford me. To be exploited is certainly not what will happen to me, but most likely, I would be the one doing the exploiting. Gods exploit their creations, not the other way around. 

Human beings sometimes act like they are gods too, we exploit much of our world and each other: We strive for control of our lives and the lives of others via our positions and self-centred rights. We make use of whatever power we have to bring down anyone who may have different opinions as ourselves, and we aim to be master of all and slave to none. Certainly, that’s how gods function, right?

And yet, this is the scandalous nature of the God in Christianity; The unfathomable mystery of our finite reality: That the God who created the world, the universe, time, neutrons, black holes, us; who can create, destroy, and remake matters with a simple word. This God chooses to become a man, to be finite, to be exploited, ridiculed, beaten, stripped, and nailed to the cross. Why on God's earth would He do this? Why would He be willing to be abused and be killed by those who use the little power they have to hate and destroy others? 

Could it be that the creator God is not like us? That God is not the emotionally volatile, and power-hungry deity of our reflections? Could it be that God, for all eternity, has been a God of Love and He is showing us on the cross who He is? That self-sacrifice for others is love? And even though we are messed up and have hurt others, in actions and inaction, He still loves us. He loves us enough to bleed for us; to die for us. Jesus, the Son of God, died not just for a good show of God’s love, but because love means justice and justice means someone has to atone—to pay for—all the sins we committed; For all the wrong and hurt we’ve done to each other, to His creation and to Himself. 

Human beings deserve to suffer for eternity, but God out of His love chose to save us through Jesus Christ. This is why the day Jesus died on the cross is called Good Friday. It is good not because it is pretty or PG. It is good not because of us, but in spite of us.  It is good because we find ourselves standing in front of that cross and see our sins nailed on someone else. Someone who chose to bear yours and my punishments because He deeply loved you and me. This is what Good Friday is, a day we remember God is love and He gave up his rights for us. He gave it up so we can be reconciled with our Creator and also to each other. He gave it up for us so we can be forgiven and forgive others.

Do you know who Jesus is? Do you know He is the only God in history who died for you and me? Do you know forgiveness is a reality we have in Jesus? Ask Him, let Good Friday be a reality for you today.