Filling Up With Empty
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Let us begin with a little character development. You are wealthy and can afford the best things in life for yourself and your family. Your young children think you are the greatest singer who ever took the stage and there are many fans who believe the same. Your voice has made you famous and is the means by which you have been able to become famous and wealthy. Life is good, no, life is great. It couldn’t be more perfect. You lack for nothing and you are surrounded in love and your greatest desire is met in your ability to spend time with your loving spouse and beautiful children.
Now for the tale.
Your father calls one day out of the blue and invites you to meet him at a small, squat, block building in the ugliest part of town. It is not an inviting place and you wonder why it is that he wants you to meet him there but you agree to go because you trust your father. When you arrive, you notice that his car is empty and rightly assume that he has already entered the desolate warehouse that stands before you. It takes a few minutes to build up the nerve to step out of the car and trek across the littered and weed-strewn lot that stretches between the car and an open door.
After entering the building you find your father standing in the middle of an undecorated room bereft of any furniture. Before you have a chance to question him about this odd meeting location, he addresses you:
“My child, there is a choice that you must make today. It is a costly choice and it is not with an easy spirit that I present it to you. To my left stands a door to another room very similar to this one. Inside that room are 10 people well-known to you. These people despise you and count you as an enemy even though you have done nothing to warrant their hatred.”
Child, listen well. They are dieing because they have a terrible disease which has only one known cure. It is within your power to provide them a cure, in fact, only you can provide the cure. But it will come at a great cost…maybe too great.”
The start of the conversation was nothing you had expected. You can’t even imagine how it is you could help dieing people regardless of whether they are your enemies or not. And why did it have to be enemies that needed your help and what form could this help take? You are wealthy, very wealthy in fact, so maybe there is an expensive cure that you could purchase for them. You decide this has to be the case and even if it is your enemies that you would be helping, money would allow you to stay distant from them. You are still curious and a bit nervous as you address your father, “I don’t understand how I can help, dad, but tell me what it is that I can do.”
His shoulders droop and his head bows as he starts his next sentence. “You don’t know how my heart hurts over this matter because of what I must ask of you. In your flesh you carry a very special genetic combination that can only be extracted following its death. The quantity of flesh needed is very large. You would have to be willing to give up both of your arms and both of your legs in order to save the lives of all ten of the people in the other room. My child, I must ask more of you than this. The cure also requires that you sacrifice your eyes and tongue because without them we cannot fully extract the cure from the flesh of your arms and legs.”
Shock invades your thoughts as you try to understand what is being asked of you. In a whisper, you ask, “How long can I think about this?”
“Child, there is little time and I have not completed detailing the cost. I am the only one who is able to complete the task following the extraction and there is a time element that must be considered. My love, this cure requires that I take you into the room next door in the next ten minutes and perform all of the steps needed to make the cure available. Do you hear me? Do you understand what I am saying? I will have to take your legs so that you can never walk again. I will take your arms and you will never again hug your children. You will lose your sight and the last thing you will see will be your enemies standing around you. I will take your tongue and while that means you will never sing again, it will also mean that you cannot respond to the people in the other room who will continue to taunt you following your sacrifice to save their lives.”
You are stunned, “You want me to give up everything, to become nothing of who I am now, for people who will not appreciate what I have done? How, dad, can you ask that of me? How can you expect me to do that?”
“My child, I must give you the choice because only you can provide the cure for the one or two in the other room who will accept it. You have to decide if you are willing to empty yourself of all you have in order to make the chance of life available for someone else even while you silently absorb the taunting of those who will reject it.”
I don’t know if I have accomplished what it is that I set out to do with this post. In Philippians, chapter 2, Paul writes about Christ in this manner:
although He 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. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Over the last few days I have struggled with understanding what it meant for Christ to empty Himself. And, so, I have tried to create a picture here, however imperfect it may be, of what it would be like to lose all that I had in order to save my enemies.
How about you? You were the star of this tale were you not? What would it be like to choose to lose all that was good and wonderful in your life and replace it with pain, suffering, and sorrow?
Maybe as you ponder these thoughts, you will learn what it means to be filled up as you consider the love that Christ displayed in the act of emptying Himself.