What do you like to do?

One of the most common questions asked when people meet each other is “What do you do?” and I have decided that by and large I am going to stop asking that question. I think there are some good reasons to ask the question and I think there are some appropriate situations to ask the question, but I don’t know if it is the best question to ask in normal situations.

Some appropriate situations would be industry conferences, networking events, and similar situations where people are gathered for the purposes of business. If I am walking a trade show floor and speaking with other industry professionals, then what do you do is a very appropriate question. After all, we are all there to find out what other companies offer, and people want to know what you do for your company. Sometimes it is so that the other person knows if you can help and sometimes it is to see where you rank but more on that later. If you are at a networking event the whole purpose is to know what other people do so you know if you can help each other. These are great reasons to ask someone what they do because in these situations you need to know what they do. What they do defines the relationship you will have.

What about a BBQ or a party? Why do we ask people what they do at a party? Sometimes the question is asked because you are interested. You meet a person and there is something about them that jumps out at you, so you ask, “what do you do?” Sometimes it is asked out of habit and in innocence. You are really not sure what else to say so you ask the fallback question. Usually, it starts with the phrase “so.” So is a great way to start a question you really don’t care to know the answer to. So, how ‘bout them Sox.

The Bible says in Philippians 2:3 that we should “do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves” and that “as we have opportunity, we must work for the good of all, especially for those who belong to the household of faith. (Gal 6:10)” We should be looking for ways to do good and build up other people. But what does this have to do with asking people what they do when you meet them?

For starters, do you care when you ask people what they do? I know, to be honest, sometimes I do not. I don’t really care what you do for a job. When I ask this question without caring I will probably walk away from the conversation and forget what you do. Or I might walk away and remember what you do but forget who you are which is far worse.

Sometimes, I think this question is asked to see how you stack up against the other person. It is an uncomfortable point, but I think a true one nevertheless. Sometimes this question is asked so you know where on the social scale you and this person are. Are they above you or below you. Who is better? Which one of you has more clout and pull in the world. Asking what do you do helps define the relationship in a way that places priority over a relationship. I could get into some details on this but it would take up much more space than we have and would turn into an article on social stratification. In short, if we ask the question in order to establish priority over relationship we have done an injustice to the person we are meeting.

We should never ask the question to see where we stack up. We should also never ask the question if we are just trying to see if we can get something out of them. I think sometimes the question is asked so we know if this person would be a good resource for us. I really dislike this reason for asking. It turns people into a commodity and strips them of their humanity. That’s right I went there. Asking what someone does in order to know how you can use them (or if you can) takes away who they are as a person and turns them into something to be used. They are no longer a human being they are a resource for you to use. A thing to be taken advantage of. When asking for this reason you might as well just ask them “what value to you have to me? Are you a top-shelf tool or something I leave in my junk drawer only to move around when I am looking for something more useful?” As Christians, we believe that people are created in the image of God. People are image bearers of the Almighty and to reduce them to items and resources is not only a tragic waste of relationships but a desecration of someone beautifully made.

That all being said I think there is a better question that can be asked. I think if we really want to get to know a person and we really want to show interest in them we can ask a better question. A question that cuts through the murky wishy-washiness of social interaction, social stacking, and gives them their proper place as an image bearer of God. The question is “what do you like to do?” now granted you might have a better question but I am going with this because the focus is put on them. It takes the focus off of comparisons and place on their personhood. It says to the person you are a person and I want to know more about you. I have tried this out a few times so far and it has worked wonders. I met a man who likes to fish and hike. I have met quite a few people who like to play video games, some who like to play music, and many who just like to spend time with their families. A fair amount of the time I find that people will tell me what they do (as in how they make money) when telling me what they like to do but that is no longer the point. The point becomes relationship. If someone likes to fish I say hey I like to fish (I am not any good though) and we can talk about something they enjoy which can move us into other conversations. The question of “what do you like to do” opens up a whole new world of conversation that would be otherwise closed if I only cared about their ability to make money.

Like most things, it is about the intent. What is the intent of asking a person what they do or what they like to do? What is the purpose of having a conversation with someone? Are you trying to just be nice? If so then be nice and ask them about what they like to do. I don’t think we should define people by how they make money or what value they have to us. We should be looking to see who they are as human beings created in the image of the Almighty God. That would be nice. So let’s be nice and find out something about someone today.

Just a thought,

Mike

Advertisements

Kenosis – Fancy Word but Important

Today I want to look at Philippians 2:1-11 which is called the self-emptying or kenosis of Christ. This one gets a little wild but I promise you I won’t waste your time. Just push through to the end with me.

Philippians 2:1-11

If then there is any encouragement in Christ, if any conciliation of love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by thinking the same way, having the same love, sharing the same feelings, focusing on the goal. Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility considers others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not for his own interest, but also the interest of others.

Make your own attitude that of Jesus,

Who existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage.

Instead, He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men.

And when He had come as a man in His external form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death – even to death on a cross.

For this reason, God highly exalted Him and gave Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow- of those who are in heaven and on earth and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.

What does Christ emptying of Himself mean?

This is called the kenosis or self-emptying of Christ. This was the cause of many heresies. Heresies are great because sometimes to help understand what something is we have to know what it is not.

Docetism – (dokeo seem or appear) this is a late first-century heresy that said Jesus only appeared to be a man.

Rebukes:

1 John 4:2 Every Spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God.

1 John 1:1 That which is from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim to you.

John 20:27 Then He said to Thomas, “put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

Ebionism – 2nd century heresy that says Jesus was adopted by God at His baptism. Also known as adoptionism.

Rebukes:

The seven I Am statements of Jesus which are Jesus claiming divinity.

The recording of the Virgin Birth.

John 10:30 – Jesus says He and the Father are One.

John 14:16 – Jesus says the Holy Spirit is another helper. This implies Jesus and the Holy Spirit are of the same essence or homoousios (same substance) as opposed to the same homoiosios (similar substance).

John 10:33 The attempted stoning of Jesus because He claimed to make Himself equal with God.

Isaiah 42:8 – I, the LORD, am one, and I won’t give my name and glory to another, nor my praise to idols.

God does not share glory. To say that Jesus was adopted as God’s Son would be to say that God does share His glory because Jesus says in John 17:5 that He has and had God’s glory. 1 Peter 1:21 says that God glorified Jesus.

Arianism – Jesus was the first created being of God. This is also modern-day Jehovah’s Witnesses. Somewhat like Mormonism that says that Jesus and Lucifer are brothers in the sense that they deny the trinity and the Godhead.

Rebukes:

Colossians 1:15-16 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the first board over all creation. For in Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through Him and for Him.

Arians and JWs argue that right here it says that Jesus was the first born but that is a legal term indicating rights of inheritance. The image reference means exact representation something along the lines of looking in a mirror.

John 14:9 – Jesus says “If you have seen me you have seen the Father.

Also, as we already looked at God does not share His glory.

There are other heresies we could look at, but these are still some pretty popular ones. But again, the point at looking at these is to get an idea of what the Kenosis is not. So, what is the Kenosis of Jesus?

First, we have to understand that Jesus is 100% God and 100% man. He is not a divided or mixed man but fully God and fully man. The Kenosis of Jesus then was His laying aside His divine power and rights in order to sympathize, save, redeem, and live forevermore as a High Priest King.

Jesus in taking on humanity made it possible for Him to die as a man taking the weight and wrath of sin upon Himself. As a man who is now raised to live never to die again He is able to live forever as priest and king.

In setting aside, His deity He was able to live like you and me. He did not stop being God He stopped using His powers so that, in part, He might demonstrate dependence on the Father and the Spirit. Jesus showed us what it means to live obedience to the Father. Jesus rarely used His own divine power while on earth. He chose to humble Himself and we can now live in that same way.

What do we do with this?

The next question we should ask is what do we do with this? I have already spoken somewhat on this (here) but Paul says that we are to serve one another and we can do this by looking to the example of Christ. Jesus had the rightful place to rule from where He was (in heaven) but He chose to come and save us. He chose not to use His divinity but instead humbled Himself. He chose to be weak so that we might become strong (in Him). He chose to serve. We can see this when He washed the disciple’s feet. He had the right to demand and instead He took served. He had the right to command and instead took request. He had the right to judge and instead took the judgment.

Jesus could do this for a few reasons. First, He was secure in who He was. Jesus is God. He knew this before He took on the form of man and He understood this during His earthly ministry (I Am statements). He could serve and be humble because He knew who He was. When we understand who we are (children of God indwelt with the Holy Spirit) we can be confident and when we are confident we can be humble.

Second, Jesus was aware of and sought the Fathers glory. Jesus said I and the Father are one I only do what I see Him doing. When we understand that God is good and that He is working all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called by His name we are able to see others because we want to see our Father glorified.

Third, Jesus trusted in the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. Jesus knew the Spirit was on Him. He was aware of the leading and power of the Spirit and He trusted the Spirit to do His work. When we trust the leading and power of the Holy Spirit we can be humble and serve others because we know that the Holy Spirit is working in or on them.

The purpose of all of this is to serve others in Jesus name. We are called to love and build up others. In our understanding of who we are, who God is, and the power of the Holy Spirit we can build each other up. We must do this even if it costs us. Jesus left us no other option.

Just a thought,

Mike

The Practicality and Reality of Faith

I am always caught off guard when I read about Jesus praying. I shouldn’t be because Jesus is fully human and fully divine but here I am caught off guard again.

I remember that Jesus is God and I can defend that statement but to remember that Jesus is a man that one I struggle with. I struggle with it because it amazes me. I struggle with it because it twists my mind in ways that I don’t have words for. I struggle with it because to remember that Jesus lived as a man does something to my weakness.

There is a part of me that likes to forget that Jesus was a man because forgetting makes my weakness ok. It makes it ok to be weak and self-serving because after all, I am only human. It makes it ok to slip into sin because after all, I am only human. It makes my self-reliance ok because after all, I am only human. But to remember that Jesus was also human and was without sin well that changes things. To remember that Jesus did not rely on Himself but on the Father and the Holy Spirit that takes away my excuses. To remember that Jesus made Himself of no reputation and took on the form of a bondservant (Phil 2) that changes the game.

When you read the Gospels, you will find that Jesus rarely did anything in His own power. Instead, He prayed to the Father trusting and obeying. Instead of going where He pleased, He moved only by the power and direction of the Holy Spirit (see the temptation). Now it would be easy to say that it is different because Jesus is God but again He chose not to rely on His divinity.

Instead of using His omniscience, Jesus spent all night in prayer before choosing the 12 disciples (Luke 6:12). Jesus could have used His infinite power and ability but chose to spend all night in prayer asking the Father for direction. Jesus could have used His command of the whole host of heaven to rescue Him from the band that came to take Him on the night of His crucifixion but instead He chose to submit to the will of the Father. Jesus could have done so much in His own power but instead, He chose to live as a man. The problem with remembering all of this is that He commands us to do the same.

I want to rely on my human weakness and frailty to excuse myself from having to do the things God calls me to do. I want to forget to pray and say it’s ok I am only human, but Christ does not give me that out. In taking humanity and living on earth He not only set an example but demonstrated the practicality and reality of faith (the ability to live that life). Now to be sure He does not expect perfection but at the same time, the excuse for not attempting has been removed.

We are not expected to be perfect, but we are expected to be moving towards the goal of maturity in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. We have no out as Christians. We have no safe zone to escape to and no claim to ignorance. We have instead a great high priest who was tempted in every way and was without sin. Again, perfection is not the requirement, but excuses are not allowed. It is a strange thing indeed but yet here we are.

Jesus among many things is our example of the practicality and reality of faith. We must walk as He walked. We walk by the will of God, in the power of the Holy Spirit, and by faith in Christ. If Jesus prayed and trusted in the power of the Holy Spirit how much more should we?

Just a thought,

Mike