I have found that at different times in my life I have picked different people to emulate. There was something about each of them that I liked and I wanted to “take on their form”. For example, I love singer/song writer John Mayer and his way of talking about life in his lyrics. He speaks of having a quarter-life crisis (as opposed to a mid-life crisis), understanding the heart of life, of how fear is misunderstood, of stopping this train of life, and having to grow up. Because of my passion for life and relationships, I want to articulate words in that unique and special way too. Sure Mayer’s character has boldly shown his flaws like his lyrics boldly speak of life. But I wanted to “take on his form” of communication. At other times I wanted to “take on the form” of those that were athletically driven, those that were health conscience or financially wise, and the list could go on. These may all sound like models, and they are, but “taking on their form” is important for our discussion this week.
A form is the shape or configuration of something. Configured is usually a term we use for cars, video games, or our computer, but configuring ourselves means thinking through the things that define us and how we are made. This is why when we look at different “forms” of people we have a tendency to draw conclusions of what we like or don’t like about them. Since each of us have different interests, different forms are found in many different facets of life. That’s why when we talk about Jesus emptying himself and taking on the form of a servant, it is a challenging concept. It is challenging because most forms, models, or configurations are upgrades, but in this case, it seems to be more of a downgrade.
One of the greatest debates on the Philippians 2 passage for this week has been around the Greek word for “empty”. Some have questioned whether the section of verse 7 that says “…but emptied himself…” means that Jesus gave up His deity or lost His nature of God. Theologically, we know this is not correct. There are so many ways Jesus shows us He is still God while He was on earth, but this does bring up an important point in understanding this passage. He had to empty himself. He had to humble himself, to take on the human nature and the form of a servant. He came down, giving up His high status, to be in the form of a humble servant. These are powerful lines as we compare it to our nature and drive. Jesus’ form of a servant means a rescuing power for us. We are no longer bonded to our selfish nature to make ourselves better. We now can take on the form of becoming a servant to others. This weekend we’ll spend time talking about how that change in form, or change in configuration, takes place. Jesus’ powerful work is now alive in us and His emptying is the filling that we needed.