κενόω

“Jesus had some choices. He was not born into the worst possible condition. He would have had far fewer options had he been born a woman, or even worse, a woman with a crippling disease. The issue was not how far down on the pyramid he was born but the direction of his gaze.” – T. Richard Snyder

As a week of giving Thanks for all that we have, and all that we are collides with the birth of a new advent season…many of us have already begun speaking of baby Jesus. This past Sunday night my wife and I took our oldest daughter on a drive through a live nativity. The nativity took us from prophecies of Jesus, to his birth, through his life, crucifixion, and even the empty tomb. The narration spoke of Christ’s humble beginnings.

We often emphasize that, and then act as if that was the path Jesus was on. A humble one. Of course he was humble, he was a human from Nazareth, etc.

But Snyder reminds us of an important not-so-secret: Jesus CHOSE to associate/love/relate/”gaze” toward the lower rungs of the socio-political-economic ladder. Why is that important to remember?

In today’s world, we “gaze” toward the higher rungs. We want success, fame, health, fortune, power, prestige, etc. Snyder points out that the power of those in the “middle class” (he admits it’s a very fluid/flexible definition for a group, but nevertheless) is essentially the “power to consume”. That even if/when someone may achieve large success, as the case with many professional sports players, they do not make it to the “top of the pyramid. They can merely buy more toys.”

Philippians 2:7 uses the word “κενόω” (ken-ah-oh) to talk about Jesus “emptying” Himself. What if this year’s Thanksgiving was also attached to our anticipation of Jesus Christ, and all that He brings/announces/transforms? Let me put it more practically:

What if this year, as we spend time listing off each thing we’re thankful for, we also use that as a list of things we want to consciously “release” our possession of towards God? As we thank God for each thing/being we have, we receive a burden for those without it?

May we “gaze” with God’s love, and move toward where that Love is moving…

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