"He (Jesus) existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men." Philippians 2: 6-7
When I was in college I was introduced to a book, "The Company of the Committed." It was a text for one of my religion courses at Baylor University. The title intrigued me, and the contents challenged me, but as I grow older, I am less impressed with the concept contained in the title. Let me explain.
Pastor Joseph Tson, a religious liberty refugee from Romania, was exiled from his country in the late 1980's and given asylum in the United States of America. This must have felt like getting kicked to the curb and being picked up by a Cadillac. But I digress.
I was privileged to hear Pastor Tson deliver a message, to a gathering of Texas Baptists, entitled, "The Theology of Martyrdom." He provided stinging and amazing insights into the erosion of truth that results by the dumbing down of the essence of Christianity. It doesn't happen over night, but eventually what is left is a barren landscape filled with busy people and empty churches.
Pastor Tson said that he only had books in his library that were published prior to the Communist takeover. When he arrived in the United States he was confused by a term he discovered in more recent publications of Christian literature. He was unfamiliar with the use of the word commitment, to describe a believers' expression of their faith in Christ.
Pastor Tson went on to explain the difference between "Commitment" and "Surrender" to a room full of busy Baptists. Most of the books in his library, published before 1917, used the word "surrender" to describe how a person entered into a relationship with God through the Person of Jesus Christ. There was a time when a person was not called upon to make a commitment to Christ, but to enter into this relationship with "Absolute Surrender."
Note to self: Jesus "emptied Himself, taking on the form of a bond-servant, and being made int he likeness of men." (v. 7) When you do less, it results in being full of yourself without being filled with The Spirit of The Risen Christ. Stop it.
There is no fullness of Christ without emptying of self. Jesus, The Son emptied Himself, or surrendered Himself to the Lordship of God, The Father. The prayer life of Jesus revolved around emptying Himself of His will, and filling Himself with God's will.
Kneeling in prayer before God is never complete until there is a surrendering of one's will to God. Prayer invokes the Christian "non-compete" clause.
A non compete clause is a contract between an employee and an employer. The employee agrees not to enter into competition with the employer. Too many Christians want what God has without surrendering themselves to Him. Prayer puts the spirit of competition to death, and brings the power of the resurrection to life.
Prayer is not complete until it leads to "non-compete." Jesus "did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped." (v.6)
Prayerless people become grasping rebels who are not surrendered servants. The prayerless often commit themselves to renewed efforts to make a name for themselves, but never empty themselves. Making a name is never a substitute for making a difference.
Jesus "humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on the cross." (v.8)
The Obedient empty themselves and surrender their will to Sovereign God. Jesus set this pattern of surrender, and servanthood by maintaining consistent companionship with God through prayer. His followers should be marked by His passion for prayer. The prayerless may be committed to their plans, but they will not be surrendered to God's will.
Prayerless people are prideful people. Prideful people can be led to make a renewed commitment in the face of a temporary setback. They are rarely willing to admit complete defeat, and make an absolute surrender.
People who are full of themselves need to be emptied before they can be filled. Jesus emptied Himself. His followers should follow His lead.
Jesus was obedient to the point of death. Through prayer, the followers of Jesus "die to self" by an absolute surrender of their way and their will to God's way and His will for their lives. The Obedient will...TALK LESS! PRAY MORE!