This post is part of an October synchroblog called “Down We Go.” (Click that link for more information about this synchroblog and synchroblogs in general.) Several bloggers are publishing posts on this topic today. (Whenever I get updates, I’ll add a list of links to the other bloggers at the bottom of this post.)
So, what is “Down We Go” all about? Well, from what I understand, it was inspired by Kathy Escobar’s book by the same title. Unfortunately, I have not read her book yet. However, we were told that we did not have to write about or interact with the book. Instead, we were asked to write about the same theme.
What theme? Well, here’s a description:
Independence. Success. Upward Mobility. Security. Comfort. In subtle and direct ways, many of have been sent a message by the world (and sometimes by the faith systems we have been part of) that life is about moving up–away from pain and suffering and toward comfort, stability, and put-togetherness. This kind of living is much different than the kind of life Jesus calls us to in the gospels. Jesus consistently modeled going down into the low and messy places of people’s experiences–intersecting with the lepers, the lonely, the outcasts, the marginalized. He calls us to a life of humility, love, and interdependence.
The way of life to which we are exhorted in the New Testament (and way of life mentioned in the description above) is perhaps best described as a life of humility. By “humility,” I mean a modest view of one’s own importance. This type of life is exemplified and exhorted in many passages of Scripture. One of my favorite examples is found in Paul’s letter to the believers in Philippi:
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:1-4 ESV)
A life of humility finds encouragement, comfort, affection, and sympathy in Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship (participation) in the Holy Spirit. (These are in direct opposition to the type of life that finds encouragement in that person’s own accomplishments or abilities.) Similarly, the life of humility responds through harmony with others, love, and unity without rivalry or conceit. Perhaps most importantly, a person of lives in humility considers the desires, thoughts, opinions, and interests of others as more important than his/her own. The last statement is very important. A humble person is actively engaged in the pursuit of interests that are important to others just as much as the pursuit of that person’s interests even if those interests (of the other people) are not important to that person.
This is a life of humility. A life that is demonstrates by our Lord Jesus Christ. Paul exhorts his readers (in Philippi) with the example of Christ’s life:
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:5-8 ESV)
According to Paul, Jesus Christ was not only “in the form of God” but was equal with God. However, he did not hold on to this equality with God choosing instead to lower himself to our level, and, even more, taking the humbling position of a servant and then allowing himself to face a humiliating death. Jesus gave up what was rightfully his for the benefit of others. This is humility.
While Jesus Christ was much more than a good example to follow, he was and is an example. (This passage among many others present Christ to us as an example to emulate.) Obviously, it is impossible to “have this mind among yourselves” without with the new life that we have in Christ and without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. However, for those of us in Christ, we are exhorted to live a life of humility. In fact, we should be asking ourselves, “How low can we go?”
Even more, humility is a characteristic that should be even more apparent among more mature believers. It may be demonstrated in acts of service, offers of hospitality, willingness to follow and submit to others, desire to support others in their interests and concerns, and, finally, the laying aside of one’s own interests. Unfortunately, among the church today (as among society), “leaders” are usually expected to demonstrate the opposite of these characteristics, demanding that others follow the leaders’ advice and opinions.
When Paul penned his letter to the church in Philippi, he specifically included in his address those who are “overseers” (bishops) and “deacons.” His commands to humble yourselves by considering the interests of others as more important are given to these leaders as much as (and perhaps more than) others among the church.
“How low can you go?” This is a question of humility that all of live in Christ should be asking themselves. And, if someone is not exemplifying this kind of life of humility, this person should not be followed, because this person is not leading others to follow Christ.
Here is a list of others who are blogging on the topic “Down We Go”:
- Alan Knox – How Low Can You Go
- Jeremy Myers – Seeking The Next Demotion
- Glenn Hager – Pretty People
- David Derbershire – Reaching The Inner City
- Tammy Carter – Flight Plan
- Leah Randall – Jacked Up
- Leah Randall (her other voice) – How Low Can We Go
- Liz Dyer – Beautiful Mess
- Maria Anderson – Down
- Christine Sine – There Is No Failure In The Kingdom of God
- Leah Sophia – Down We Go
- Hugh Hollowell – Downward
- Kathy Escobar – We May Look Like Losers – Redux
- Anthony Ehrhardt – Slumming It For Jesus
- Sonja Andrews – Diversion and Distraction
- Marta Layton – Down The Up Staircase
- Wendy McCaig – A Material Girl