You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. (NLT)
Governments of every persuasion find it next to impossible to withdraw a benefit or privilege from the people they govern. Once something is given, it is so hard to take away. A sense of entitlement has settled in. Just as well Jesus didn’t think in these terms.
Jesus came to earth to be born in squalid conditions and die a horrible death. The message of Christmas and of Easter is that God loves us enough to do all that. We were worth the trouble. Our predicament was serious enough that only such a radical act would resolve the predicament.
Jesus didn’t fold his arms and throw a sulk at the thought of coming to earth. He knew it wouldn’t be much like the Christmas cards. He knew the magical nativity episode was a mere beginning to a much more brutal story. But he didn’t insist on his heavenly privileges. He was willing to forgo them for our sake. Never having been to heaven or experienced the perfection of relationship with God, we can’t imagine what it cost him.
But Jesus gave up everything dear to him so we could gain everything in return. Being born as a baby may seem romantic and sweet to us. Yet for the divine Son of God it was an act of indescribable condescension. If we do see Christmas as a season of gift giving, then let’s never forget that Jesus gave us himself and it cost him everything.