Today’s coffee: blend (at Tokumitsu)
I really didn’t think I’d get to write this week. We’ll make it fast—just one cup of coffee (and a slice of cheesecake). This afternoon I’ve got to actually write down my lasagne recipe, which until now has only existed in my head… (cooking class next week!)
Last night I went to a concert. Well, not exactly a concert. The students at our local seminary have been working very hard at learning to play the organ—some of them may become pastors in very small churches where there is no one else to accompany the singing during the worship service. Last night’s concert was they’re debut at accompanying congregational singing.
During the concert, the students read through the entire book of Philippians interspersed with hymns by Fanny Crosby. (I have a sneaking suspicion that her hymns are more popular among Japanese evangelicals than they are in the US these days.) Encouraged, I decided to read Philippians again this morning in English.
Backing up a bit, last night before we went to sleep, Keith and I talked for a long time about humility—our need for it, our failures in the past, and our thankfulness that God has sent us to a place and a work where we will either learn humility or we will fail. We also talked about a certain blog post which made the rounds on facebook a while ago—this particular blog presented a hilarious and yet painful description of our generation. We were both raised to think we were special. Special in the eyes of our family and friends, yes. Better than everyone else, no. But somehow thinking we were “special” made us lose sight of our own weaknesses and gave us a sense of entitlement that was, and still is, hard to shake.
As I read through Philippians again this morning, I found hope in chapter 2:
If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-- even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phi 2:1-11 NIV)
I found this passage to be both convicting and comforting. Am I entitled to a life of comfort in which my talents and intellect are respected? No. I am to consider others better than myself. But I’m not the only one. Jesus, the founder of my faith and the model whose life I seek to emulate, threw away all of the things humans want—power, honour, glory—and was born as a human to a poor family, lived a short life full of love for others, and died a painful death in our place.
And yet even if I am disrespected and my life seems less successful than I had hoped it would be, I know that I am loved. Jesus made himself nothing for my sake, for each one of us. Living my life in humble obedience to the one who loves me is far more meaningful than all the successes in the world.
So, I think there’s still hope for “generation Y”: God loves us despite our failures and shortcomings, and we can respond to God’s love for us in obedience and humility and teachability. I still have so much to learn, but I am confident in the one who is teaching me.