When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.
Context is important. We may see the same thing over and over and yet the meaning of what we see…or how we feel about what we see… changes. Meaning is determined by context.
Consider a turned back. At first brush, the image of someone turning their back on us makes us feel bad. Rejected perhaps. Unimportant. Forgotten. It’s often painful.
I’ve heard our son talk about telling his high school baseball coach that he was hanging up his cleats. The coach had talked him in to playing…even though he’d never played before. He gave it a shot and decided it wasn’t for him. He went to tell his coach about his decision. The coach said nothing in response. He just kicked the dirt, grunted in disgust…and turned his back…and walked away. Our son was hurt and rejected at the sight of that turned back.
Just before the season began, our daughter decided to give up basketball in order to focus on a different vision she has for herself and her life right now. She fearfully…after much thought and practice…went to inform her coach. He cut her off in mid-sentence. He said he didn’t want to talk. He didn’t care about her reasons or what she had to say. He told her to clean out her locker immediately…then he got up…turned his back on her…and walked away. The three seasons she has already played for him didn’t matter. Hurt. Rejected.
A turned back is often unpleasant. But not always…it depends on the context.
I have a picture that Findley Hansard sent me…it is of her back…which is adorned with her iMAGiNEXT t-shirt. It makes me smile because I know that Findley isn’t walking away from anything…but rather TOWARD something. All I can see is her turned back but I know that she is walking toward her personal “next” in Jesus Christ. It’s not pain I feel at the sight of it…but JOY! Context.
I have a picture of Glenn Crosthwait taken just this morning. It is of his back. If I look over his shoulder…I can see that he is looking at a stack of Easter music. Can you imagine? Christmas at Johns Creek is not yet 3 days past…and yet he’s looking at Easter music. He has turned his back (from a Worship Pastor’s point of view) on the narrative of Jesus’ birth and is walking TOWARD the all-important story of Jesus’ resurrection! It’s not pain I feel at the sight of his turned back…but JOY! Context.
Monday night, Connie and I looked at our son Austin’s turned back. We watched him walk away from us pulling a carry-on bag as he went to board a plane to West Africa. He was, indeed, walking away…walking away from our family, walking away from our home, walking away from our Christmas together for crying out loud! While we do miss him…it is not pain that we feel at the sight of his turned back…but pure JOY in the knowledge of what he is walking TOWARD. Context.
Two thousand years ago…God…the Creator God…the God of the Universe…”turned his back” on everything else…and came to earth in the form of a baby. God chose to leave whatever God’s reality had been up to that point…however God existed up to that point…and walk TOWARD all humanity. Toward you. Toward me.
JOY JOY JOY!
Johns Creek Baptist Church