Friday, November 18, 2011

Getting to grips with holiness

Giles Fraser is at his mouth-watering best in today's Guardian, reflecting on where the church should be and whether we've understood holiness properly.

It reminded me why it matters what we think and say about Jesus. I have been putting the finishing touches to a session on Christology for Spurgeon's next week which has been a little like herding cats with material refusing to fit neatly in my pre-planned scheme. Ah well.

But Fraser's piece brought to mind some words of Richard Bauckham that I will be sharing with my students. Reflecting on Philippians 2:5-11, he says: 'the passage amounts to a Christological statement of the identity of God. The exaltation of Christ to participation in the unique divine sovereignty shows him to be included in the unique divine identity. But since the exalted Christ is first the humiliated Christ, since indeed it is because of his self-abnegation that he is exalted, his humiliation belongs to the identity of God as truly as his exaltation does…The God who is high can also be low, because God is God not in seeking his own advantage but in self-giving.'

The question is what does the self-abasement and cross of Christ tell us about God? The answer is eloquently given by Bauckham. But it begs another question what does it mean for us to have the same mind that was in Christ Jesus? The very question Paul asks as the introduction to this amazing portrait of our servant God.

And it seems to me that Giles Fraser has put in finger on where an answer begins.

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