In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature, God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to His advantage; rather, He made Himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross! Philippians 2:5-8 NIV
I’m going to start this blog with a moment of honesty, is that okay? Thanks, here it is: I’m tired. Physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually – I’m tired. I am worn out. I am a pastor and a writer for my local newspaper. Both jobs come with a lot of criticism, and people questioning your motives constantly. I now only cover sports for the paper, but at one point I was covering city government and other local interest stories. I’ve had “fake news” lobbed my way more than once, and been accused of writing and/or preaching my biases. I was insulted by strangers that I’ve never met or spoken to before simply because I was riding in the back of a media truck while taking pictures of people walking on a bridge. For that particular event, the sad thing was many of those doing the insulting were also wearing shirts and/or hats promoting Jesus. I’m tired.
The most mundane things that I never would have thought would bring criticism, have (even covering sports exclusively). The people that may praise you one minute are the same ones that may bash you the next. It all depends if you are giving them what they want. I have essentially zero close friends that I’m able to be brutally honest with without fear of how those feelings would be perceived. I’m tired. I’m tired of faith taking over politics and politics taking over faith. I’m tired of people assuming the worst in others and reveling in the downfall and humiliation of their fellow man. I’m tired of pouring my heart out week after week for others to dissect and determine my motives. I’m tired of trying to be everything people want or expect me to be, only to find it’s never enough. I’m tired.
I’m tired of a world where being right means more than doing things the “right” way. I’m tired of issues mattering more than people. I’m tired of people preaching love in the same sentence they then declare hatred toward those who don’t align with their view of love. I’m tired of people that are undoubtedly reading this and assuming that I’m talking about them. I’m not. But I’m tired. I’m tired of sarcasm and biting words. I’m tired of lies and deceit. I’m tired of people justifying the attack ofothers character and value based solely on their narrow (and biased) view of the world. I’m tired of people joking about Jesus and my faith because they don’t believe what I believe. I’m tired of Christians using Jesus and that same faith to attack others. And I’m tired of Michigan football losing to Ohio State! I’m tired.
Then, in a moment of clarity, I think of Jesus. If I’m tired of these things, and you’re tired of these things, how tired is He of these things? God is the only one that has a 100% right and justifiable reason to be tired of us. But instead of giving up, He came to us; and in the most unexpected way possible. He became LIKE us. In the words of Linus Van Pelt, “That’s what Christmas is all about Charlie Brown.” Jesus, being God, emptied Himself of His stature to come to us – not as a 30-year-old preacher, teacher, and miracle worker, but as a baby. He became dependent upon the very ones He created. He took on our nature, our likeness (though to be fair, we were created in His image and likeness first). God became flesh. He probably was tired of seeing humankind continue to mess up, misinterpret, and misjudge everything about Him and His creation. Yet, He came to us and for us. He. Became. Us.
That was no minor feat. To do so, Paul writes, Jesus emptied Himself, laid down His rights as God, and made Himself nothing (of no reputation). He took on human likeness and humbled Himself even further by going to the cross to die a death reserved for the nastiest criminals, to demonstrate the depth of His love for us. The gospels tell us of a time nearing Jesus’ death when He prayed in the garden of Gethsemane (Matt. 26; Mark 14; Luke 22), pouring out His heart and expressing His anguish over His coming arrest and crucifixion. Jesus was tired. Jesus was anxious. Yes, Jesus even showed fear. He was alone on earth. His closest friends betrayed Him, abandoned Him, and denied Him. He cried out that the Father had forsaken Him. But He pressed on. He remained humble. He remained obedient. He finished the work He came to do. (Jn. 19:30)
Jesus didn’t press on because of any personal benefits He would receive. He was God before He ever came to the earth. He emptied Himself of all of His rights for your sake, for mine, and for everyone else. That Christmas day some 2000+ years ago, God took on flesh, and the world met Immanuel – “God with us.” Thus, Christmas is not only a time to remember the Christ-child and the enormity of that event, but also a time for those of us who have committed to follow Him to remember the charge to “have the same mindset as Christ Jesus…” No matter how tired I may be, I must press on. I must remain humble, empty myself, and take on the nature of a servant. Why? Because not everyone has experienced this love that cannot be replicated by the world. Others need to see, feel, and know the love of the One who created them and knows the depths of their soul like none other. And I don’t want anything to hinder that picture. I don’t want to sell my witness for a political party. It’s not about me. It’s not about you. It’s not about America. It’s not about a political party. It’s not about power. It’s not about our rights. It’s not about winning or losing, heaven or hell, black or white. It’s. About. Jesus.
I’m tired. I’m tired of being the very thing I’m tired of above. I’m tired of making this life about myself. I’m tired of minimizing the grace, love, and power of Christ. I’m tired of not reflecting Him as I should and letting this world distort my witness. I’m tired of not showing you and others how good God is and how much He loves, adores, and desires you. I’m tired, but as I remember the “reason for the season,” suddenly I’m not so tired anymore. God never tires of expressing His love, so I press on to reflect that love to others – To my wife; my kids; the church; my community; you; and myself. I’m tired. But I ain’t dead… Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)