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Philippians 2

Privilege or Humility? 

“If, then, there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, make my joy complete by thinking the same way, having the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look not to his own interests, but rather to the interests of others. Adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus, who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be exploited. Instead he emptied himself by assuming the form of a servant, taking on the likeness of humanity. And when he had come as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death—even to death on a cross.”
-Phillipians 2:1-8 (CSB)

What does it look like—in the turmoil of our present world, amidst the uprising of an oppressed people group—to humble ourselves and consider the interests of others over our own interests? Jesus was born with privileges, at least in the spiritual realm. So why would he deny those privileges and “empty himself by assuming the form of a servant”? I believe that I was born with some privileges, as a white Christian raised in an upper-middle class neighborhood. I know some may argue that point, and others contained here, and I would welcome a conversation about why I strongly believe them to be true. What does it look like for me to “adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus” and deny that privilege, “assuming the form of a servant”? I have had a lot of my worldviews challenged amidst the current Black Lives Matter movement. I think it would be much more comfortable for me to dismiss the stories I hear from my Black brothers and sisters in Christ about their experiences of racial inequality and oppression in our country—it’s painful to recognize how my own implicit biases and “selfish ambitions” have made me complicit in their suffering. But the life and teachings of Jesus Christ show us that he welcomed discomfort and did not shy away from making others uncomfortable. “He humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even to death on a cross.” 

So, where do I go from here? What do I do with this discomfort, these painful realizations, this lifetime of privilege and complicity? Well, I think Paul’s instruction here is clear and applicable for all of us in this pivotal time—to lay aside our selfish ambition and conceit and to, in humility, consider others as more important than ourselves. The Church can be a beacon of light and hope of reconciliation despite the most divisive of political climates, or it can fade into the comfortable backdrop of conceited self-interest. 

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weekly reflection by

Ashleigh Caudill