Perhaps the one command the Apostle Paul made we have the most trouble with is, “make yourself nothing.” I know there are those who will say, “Paul never said that!” Oh but he did. He wrote to the church in Philippi that they should “… have the same mindset as Jesus Christ;” (Philippians 2:5). So we have to look forward about what Paul says Jesus Christ’s mindset was. And it was this, “… he made Himself nothing…” (Philippians 2:7).
Now, there is a troubling thought. Our current cultural climate doesn’t even allow us to think about becoming nothing. You can’t invest nothing, you can’t deposit nothing in the bank. There is no self-esteem seminars for nothing filled nobodies. Nothings get laughed at, demeaned, or cancelled today.
But Paul says, “Jesus… made Himself nothing.” This was a willful choice emphasized by His actions. Think for a minute about what this means. All His divine rights and privileges, Jesus cast aside to become nothing… a nothing like you or me… human. How do you measure the height of this descending concept? The distance between God and man has been the subject of thousands of books, movies, plays or poems. But it cannot be measured.
The Creator of all things, of energy, animals, mankind and the universes of heaven, chooses to empty Himself and become nothing, so I can be something. Jesus subjects Himself to obedience as a human child to say, “Yes Dad, and ok Mom.” Jesus gives up the relentless praise of all the heavenly angels, to hear only the constant ridicule of the Jews and humanity. Jesus Christ leaves heaven for earth for a singular purpose and end. The Cross of Calvary.
As if that were not enough, in making this choice, Jesus moves from sinless to sin-filled… filled by the sins of all mankind before and after Him, facing the raging wrath of God’s anger toward sin. But we have to remember something here. Jesus was not forced to do this. He wasn’t coerced or blackmailed. This action was an intentional and conscious decision made in an unwavering commitment to the will of God.
Jesus chose a life of giving Himself away, serving those who followed Him, losing His life on a cross, and dying for all of humanity. He made Himself “nothing.”
This is a hard teaching from scripture and goes against human nature, conventional wisdom, and cultural logic around the globe. Yet, it is what Paul demands that we adopt as our own mindset if we are true Christ-followers. Anyone, any teacher, preacher, or Sunday School leader who has suggested the Christian life is easy, may need to rethink the teaching of Philippians 2, and the call to “nothingness.”
It makes no sense to the lost world. It makes no sense to the religious community. It is non-sense to most people today. But to the true Christ-follower, by the authority of the Apostle Paul, given to him by Jesus Himself, this is a command, not an option. Maybe, this command is challenging you today to rethink everything you’ve ever been taught about what it means to follow Christ. Especially in a world ravaged by the politically motivated, power-hungry “somebodies” who want to tell you what to believe, how to act, what you can and cannot say. Does a nobody even have a voice?
Adopting the mindset of Jesus Christ will speak louder than any silver-tongued politician who thinks themself “somebody” when they are the real “nobodies” when compared to Jesus the Savior.
Trust Him. Follow Him. Descend with Him, into nothing.