Saturday, March 23, 2024

Usurping God

Paul pointed to the obedience of Jesus as the model of proper conduct for disciples. His willingness to die at the hands of the World Empire is the paradigm for how believers must live and think if they wish to follow him “wherever he goes.” His self-sacrificial act stands in sharp contrast to the political systems of this age that seek to replace God and impose their rule over humanity.

Not only did Jesus refuse political power, but he became the ‘Suffering Servant’ who died for the sake of others. Not only was Golgotha the turning point of History, but it was and remains contrary to the practices and beliefs of this world’s political powers - (Philippians 2:5-11).

Crown of Thorns - Photo by BBC Creative on Unsplash
[Photo by BBC Creative on Unsplash]

Paul declared that the “
proclamation of Christ crucified” is the power of God, and His wisdom is revealed in the “Word of the Cross.” Moreover, if the “rulers of this age” had understood this, they would not have “crucified the Lord of Glory,” thereby sealing their doom.

Christians who immerse themselves in partisan politics should consider carefully exactly with whom they are allying themselves. They may find they are sleeping with “Babylon,” or perhaps even with the “Beast from the Abyss” and the “Dragon” behind his beastly power who desires to destroy the sovereignty of God:

  • I will ascend into the Heavens, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God… I will make myself LIKE the Most High. Yet You will be brought down to the uttermost parts of the Abyss” – (Isaiah 14:13-15).

No emperor, parliament, president, prime minister, senator, congressman, king, or dictator would ever willingly submit to a brutal execution for the sake of his subjects, let alone his enemies (“While we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son”).

The New Testament summons disciples to imitate Christ’s example by conducting themselves as he did while living in a hostile culture. They must “stand fast in one spirit, with one soul, joining for the combat along with the faith of the gospel.”

Anyone who wishes to follow Jesus must do so by “thinking the same things” that he did, and this was epitomized by his self-sacrificial act on Calvary. Execution on the Empire’s cross was central to the mission of the Messiah who came “not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” - (Philippians 2:5-11).

To illustrate just what Jesus did, Paul employed Old Testament language from the stories of Adam and the “Suffering Servant” of the Book of Isaiah. Unlike the former, Jesus did not attempt to seize “likeness” with God. Adam was created in His image but grasped at divine “likeness” when he violated the commandment of God.

However, Jesus obeyed God and suffered the consequences. As the “Suffering Servant,” he humbled himself and submitted to an unjust death, and for that reason, God “highly exalted” him.


Like Adam, he began “in the form of God.” Unlike Adam (or the “DRAGON”), he “did not consider the being LIKE God something for plunder.” The Greek adjective isos translated as “like” means just that, “like.”

The clause alludes to the incident when the “Serpent” tempted Eve in the Garden: “For God knows that in the day you eat thereof, your eyes will be opened and you will become like God, knowing good and evil.”

Adam chose to disobey and attempted to “seize” equality with God. Paul contrasted his disobedience with the refusal of Jesus to snatch that same “likeness.” When the rulers of this age demand the total allegiance of their subjects, they attempt to usurp the sovereignty of God by demanding that which belongs to Him alone.

The clause, “being in the form of God,” corresponds to the creation account when “God created man in his own image.” Likewise, Jesus was in the “image” or “form” of God. In Greek literature, the two nouns are synonymous. The term translated as “being” represents the Greek present tense participle huparchō, meaning, “to commence, begin; to start.” Hence, he began in the image of God just as Adam did.

However, instead of seizing equality with God, Jesus “poured himself out… he humbled himself becoming obedient unto death.” He fulfilled his Messianic mission by becoming the suffering “Servant of Yahweh” - (Isaiah 53:7-13, 45:23).

The followers of Jesus are called to something quite different than the ways of this world. They are commanded to live according to the same mindset and pattern found in his life and death, to seek nothing from self-interest or for “empty glory.”

Cross Solitary - Photo by Jussara Romão on Unsplash
[Photo by Jussara Romão on Unsplash]

His disciples are summoned to emulate him by “
pouring themselves out” for others as he did, even if doing so means personal loss or benefits their worst enemies. There is no place for power over others in his Kingdom.

This is what it means to have the “mind that was in Christ,” to “follow him wherever he goes” no matter the cost, an outlook, and a way of life incompatible with the political ideologies of the world.

The Kingdom of God is being implemented through the proclamation of the “Word of the Cross,” and by disciples who emulate the example and follow the teachings of Jesus, and not through the wiles of “Babylon” or the fleeting power of the “Beast.”

  • Calvary or Rome? - (When offered by Satan, Jesus refused the political power of Rome. So, why do we continue to seek what he rejected?)
  • The Ancient Empire - (Imperial arrogance is the legacy of the Tower of Babel incident, humanity’s first but not last attempt at building the Dragon’s great World Empire)
  • Fleeting Power - (Only God’s kingdom will prevail and endure in the end. All other political powers are transitory. Already they are passing away)