You might have heard the story of the national chain that was fined for selling high vis vests. They were fined because their particular brand of high vis vests weren’t high vis! They didn’t glow in the dark.
I wonder how “high vis” the particular brand of Christianity is that we have adopted as the real thing? Indeed, what is basic Christianity? Good question. And no doubt you could come up with more than a few answers.
In Philippians 2 Paul makes an appeal to the believers at Philippi. His desire is that they should have the same mindset as Christ.
And then he quotes what is probably a song, about Christ, that was sung in the early church.
Firstly, Jesus, before His incarnation, had everything. He was and is equal with God. Yet He used none of what He had for His own advantage. None of it (v.6)
Secondly, says Paul, He made Himself nothing (v.7). The older translations say ‘No reputation’. He went from everything to nothing. From being the agent of creation and being adored by angels, He went, by choice, to a status of no reputation. None. Nothing.
Thirdly, He became in nature a servant (v.7). You could translate that word servant, slave. The Son of God became a slave.
And then He died.
Using none of your assets or gifts to give you the edge. Making yourself nothing. Becoming a servant. That’s basic Christianity.
And it was this Jesus that God highly exalted.
The mindset that says “It’s not about me”. A mindset that is more concerned about your well being than my reputation. A mindset that is more eager for the opportunity to serve than for a chance to lead. That is basic Christianity. That is the Christianity that God blesses. That is Jesus-shaped Christianity.
Scriptures like Philippians 2 can seem like something for people who are pretty mature, experienced Christians. But that is not the case. The reality is that what Paul says is actually basic Christianity. That’s the reality. Surprising? Perhaps.
Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand. Philippians 2.3-4 MSG