The formula consists of the following:
Although [status], not [selfishness] but [self-abasement/slavery].
Paul’s narrative of the cross demands that Christians forgo their worldly status, give up personal rights and selfish pursuits, and serve others.
As I read through this material, I realized a connection between this narrative of the cross and the body of Christ. There has to be a renouncing of status in the church for the body of Christ to be one.
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Gal. 3:28).
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ (1 Cor. 12:12).
Becoming part of the body of Christ demands a removal of status. There is no place for elevated individuals and social distinctions in the church. All Christians share a common humbling as they glorify God. Of course, all individuals will have different abilities and roles, but every member is valuable and important. The church is the priesthood of all believers. It is the place where the CEO and the custodian can serve side by side as elders. The Rockefellers worship beside the Jones. It’s not just that a person’s status is checked at the door of the church building. It is released at the doorstep of baptism (putting self to death) and a new identity is found in Christ. He is our status.
Social distinctions in the church lead to bitterness and strife. Humbling of self and service of others edifies and builds up a stronger church. Class distinctions are common in society, separating individuals into different groups. But, it is not so in the church. A church consists of people who are one in their aims and purposes. The dictates and the demands of the world have no authority among the people of God. The church is ruled by another way of life.
Leaving status behind provides an important reminder of the all-encompassing nature of discipleship. To give up status and identity is to give up self. The Christian must undergo a daily dying to Christ. May our churches be filled with this attitude and spirit. Their health and life depends on it.