Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Journey to the Center of the Earth

Spirit & Truth # 300
“Journey to the Center of the Earth”
By Greg Smith

            Have you ever moved to another country?  Expatriates talk about the culture shock that they go through when they leave their homes behind and exchange them for a foreign society.  Sometimes in such a move you also have to learn a different language.  Missionaries and members of the military may even experience danger when they perform their duties in another land.  Then if you move back home after being gone a while, you experience that culture shock again.

            If culture shock can be so great when you move from one country to another, imagine the shock of moving to another world.  For example, scientists have just discovered water on Mercury.  What if, in generations to come, we were to colonize another planet?  Or, like in Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth, you could descend to a lower region of the earth filled with strange and wonderful creatures, plants, and experiences?  You’d be reeling from the adjustment!

            Jesus had his own “Journey to the Center of the Earth.”  Ephesians 4:9 (ESV) says that Jesus “descended into the lower regions, the earth.”  He abandoned His heavenly throne for a world that was entirely different from anything He knew in Heaven.  Imagine the culture shock He must have had when He exchanged glory for guts and grime!  John 1:14 (ESV) says that He “became flesh and made his dwelling among us.”  He made the world, yet He chose to become part of it.  Those who received their very breath from their Creator rejected Him when He appeared.  Yet even though we rejected Jesus, He sacrificed Himself to save us anyway.

            What kind of God does something like that?  When people reject me, I’m likely to return the favor.  Yet when we despised Him, He died for us.  What a staggering thought!  Then, the Bible tells us something equally staggering.  “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5 NIV).”  God expects Christians to act like Christ.  We can’t do that on our own, but when the mind of Christ dwells in us, He can transform us into Christlike people.  

            It takes a humble God to endure the culture shock of abandoning Heaven in exchange for the discomforts of this world.  It takes even more humility to endure the cross’s shame for people who refuse you.  But that’s the kind of meekness that Jesus modeled—and He told us, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5 ESV).”  

            Even as Jesus left His glory and descended to those who were less than He was, He calls you to leave your glory.  Are there those who you feel are less than you?  Maybe you feel you’re smarter or wealthier or more athletic or more beautiful or holier than they are.  Jesus calls you to leave your glory and come down to their level.  “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others (Philippians 2:3-4).  Only when you do this can you be like Christ.  Only this way can you truly call yourself a Christian.

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