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Downward Mobility

David Shin


Pastor David reflects on Christ's descension into service and how his examples is a model for incarnational ministry.


David Shin

Pastor, Hillside O'Malley Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Anchorage, AK



  • December 10, 2016
    11:30 AM
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On the screen I have a picture of Jose Rojas He's the former North American division use director he tells a story of how he was invited to the White House when President George W. Bush was president he was invited there as a special guest and as he was waiting in the waiting area was a group of other individuals that were waiting there with him one of the White House aides walked into the waiting room and mistakenly assumed that Jose Rojas was not an honored guest but was one of the butlers in the White House and he looked at Jose and said you there once you get everybody water in the in the waiting room and Jose didn't even flinch he said OK He got up start getting water for everybody served everyone a glass of water and and made sure that everyone was taken care of and shortly thereafter George W. Bush walks into the room and says Jose I'm so glad you're here White House aides face just drained as he recognized that he just treated the honored guest of the President like a servant now who is a Rojas is a better man than I. Because if I was in that situation I would have been tempted to say something say excuse me. Do I look like a servant of the White House I am the honored guest No one naturally wants to be a servant we all want to be served. And today I want to reflect on a challenging passage as it has implications for us as to what it means to be a Christian a Christian leader for that matter and one to invite you to open your Bibles if you have not already to Philippians Chapter 2 verses 5 through 8 this is Paul theological reflection on the incarnation of Jesus Christ in this time of the year we do celebrate the Incarnation the birth of Jesus on this earth over 2000 years ago when I read through this Philip in Chapter 2 verses 5 through 8 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus who being in the form of God did not consider it robbery to be equal with God but made himself of no reputation taking the form of a bong servant and coming in the likeness of men and being found in appearance as a man He humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death even the death of the cross. There's a lot in here but just a brief reflection I don't think throughout the ceases ages of eternity we will fully comprehend the notion of the chasm that Christ condescended going from God to a human being that chasm is wider then humanity to an insect with a humanity to an immediate doesn't even fathom the chasm that God when down the Bible says that we were made lower than the angels so you can argue that is God angels humans. He took 2 steps down. And just to help us a little bit grasp the nature of how vast God really is got is big for the lack of a better word. Here I have a picture on the screen of the Milky Way galaxy galaxy on in which we reside we are on the edge of this galaxy they say that traveling at the speed of light which is 186000 miles per 2nd 186000 miles per 2nd the speed of light approximately 8 times around the Earth one second they say traveling at the speed of light it would take you 100000 light years to go from one end of the Milky Way galaxy to the other and this is just unfathomable when you look at the vastness of the universe and on the screen I have a picture this is a picture of a cluster of galaxies just like our own difficult for us to comprehend they estimate that there are over a 100000000000 galaxies just like our Milky Way galaxy now we throw out these words like 1000000000 and Trillion especially in reference to the national debt and it just seems like pocket change but when you think about 1000000000 if you were to sit down and count to a 1000000000 I don't recommend you do this by the way would be a waste of time and you would average one number a 2nd it would take you 95 years to count to 1000000000 that's 1000000000 so this is was a cluster of galaxies 100000000000 galaxies and they say there is 200000000000 stars in our galaxy alone and this. God that created the universe condescended they say that it is estimated that the number of stars in the universe is greater than the number of the grains of sand on all the beaches in the world according to Carl Sagan amazing and this illimitable eternal God condescended and became human this is what we reflect on every Christmas season and this is infinite condescension and the Bible says He did not take on the form of the elite of humanity the Bible says he became a servant and it's like us becoming an ant and we're not even not class ant or a common Ant I mean that I mean it's just incomprehensible even to become upper class and I mean can you imagine like you know just. This this is just mind boggling when you think about the ineffable eliminable God of the universe condescending and becoming. A human I mean we think that being human is not bad but to God it is condescension to become as one of us and the Bible tells us that he became a servant and became obedient unto death even the death of the cross on like this translation in your relationship with one another have the same mindset as Christ Jesus who being in the very nature of God did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage rather he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant. This is a quote from the Greek lexicon talking about this concept of emptying himself to completely remove or eliminate elements of high status are ranked by eliminating all privileges or Parag it is associated with such status or rank to empty oneself to divest oneself of position yet the Greek words there for emptying himself found in Philip aeons chapter 2 verse 7 you can see that Jesus was descending it was downward mobility a downgrade the path of Jesus was to go from the throne of God and condescend the movement was downward not upward he descended he stepped down it was a downgrade and you can see the trajectory in these verses I have here on the screen God was with the Word was WITH God and the word was gone John 11 The Word became flesh Emmanuelle found the book of Matthew literally means God with us Jesus descended down to serve our needs John 114 he lived with us Matthew 2132 he ate with us and in John Chapter 13 he knelt down and washed his disciples feet he came down to serve. This is the trajectory of Jesus and Paul says we are to have this same mindset of Christ Stan Patterson one of my professors at the seminary summarized it in this way in his reflections on Philippians Chapter 2 precisely because he was God He became a servant therefore the essential nature of God is to be a servant being a servant is not an exception to his nature it is his nature the essence of what it means to be God is not to desire to ascend it is to this dire to descend to service this is so foreign to our understanding of what leadership means and I find in my own Christian experience in relationship to service and ministry just a a window on what it means to be a pastor and with my colleagues there's often a discussion sometimes where one of my colleagues says you know one day one of the conference press. I want to be ministerial director or I want to be G C president you can see that this idea even filters down even into those that are in ministry that look I don't want to descend no one wants that small church in that poll done district out in the middle of nowhere you want the large church in Berrien Springs or at Loma Linda. And I want to tell you that it entered into my consciousness when I said look I'm going to Alaska and some of my friends say why are you going there Little do they know him and. This is paradise. Praise God. But there's this concept of ascendancy. And this notion of descendants see we don't want it it is conflicting with our human desire. On invite you to turn with me to a contrast in passage go there to Isaiah Chapter 14 as we look at. This. Monologue if you can say that the words of Lucifer and Isaiah Chapter 14 versus 121314 How are you fallen from heaven Lucifer son of the morning how are you cut down to the ground you who weaken the nations for you have said in your heart notice the language here I will ascend into heaven I will exalt my throne above the stars of God I will sit on the Mount of the congregation on the farthest signs of the north I will ascend above the heights of the clowns I will be like the most high is interesting because this is actually a Kayasth stick structure simple Caiaphas and here you can see that he begins I will ascend into heaven a parallel with the other side of that cause them I will send above the heights of the clouds and then the top part of this Kayasth 6 truck sure actually says I will also sit on the Mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the Norse look at the stark contrast of Lucifer he says look I will ascend I will move up the intentions of Lucifer is precisely upward mobility he wanted to be not like God He wanted to be God. And this is the philosophy that comes straight from the original rebellion in heaven this is loose the 1st paradigm and this is part of what made the devil the devil ascendancy I will move up and there was a lot of conflict in heaven because Lucifer went and politicked with the other angels and said you know what I don't see why not I shouldn't have that position now we need to recognise that Lucifer was the highest angel he had already been given prominence but he wanted more and the division in heaven began because of this notion of ascendancy of desiring a position and look at the Eagle centric nature of this I will ascend I will exalt I will sit I will ascend its egocentric self promotion this is the philosophy that lies at the heart of Lucifer I have a graph here on the screen which contrasts the 2 models on the left hand side your left hand side you have the ascendancy model dominance oriented is climbing upward mobility as expressed in Isaiah Chapter 14 and is a guild chapter 28 and it is the desire for power movement up ascendency I will ascend you have what we just saw in Philippians chapter 2 and in the incarnation of Jesus you have the descendant incarnational model of Jesus The Descendants see into service. And the challenge that we have as Christians is that when we import this dominance oriented ascendant model and we bring it into the church into ministry we have all kinds of conflicts that come in. The ascendancy model is to consolidate power is to bring power in and to censure allies power the D's tendency model is to in power you see that through the Gospels notice what Jesus said Matthew chapter $28.00 the Great Commission all power is given me in heaven in on earth therefore go the implication is empowerment Jesus empowers the church the church leadership empowers the laity it is not toward consolidation it is toward the dispersion and the delegation of power to fundamental different models and the natural human heart wants to ascend. But the Christian paradigm is in D.C. tendency it is incarnational. Now it's no surprise that the disciples also struggled with this you see this in Matthew chapter 28 persons 2321 then the mother of James and John the sons of Zebedee came to Jesus with their son she knelt respectively respectfully to ask a favor what is your request he asked she replied in your kingdom please let my 2 sons sit in the places of honor next to you one on your right hand and the other on the left nothing like mom you can understand a mother's heart for her boys. Every mother and I would say Father dreams of great things for their child. You know we're we're expecting a baby and already my wife and our Like hope someday. Our child you know the kind of confer this dreaming kind of living vicariously through your child this is natural so this mom goes to Jesus. Says Jesus my boy. This is probably in a back room where the other disciples could not hear when you do inherit the kingdom police doesn't matter which one but one on the right one on the left please the dialogue goes on and the disciples later on find out verse 24 when the other 10 disciples heard what James and John had asked they were indignant they were upset so Jesus has to do some damage control got to do a little bit of leadership $101.00 he goes on but Jesus called them together and notice what he says and said you know that the rulers in this world lol ward over the people and the officials want their US already over those under them but among you it will be different notice what Jesus is doing he starts by sharing with them how the natural paradigm of ascendancy and dominance is portrayed in the world and then he says but he contrasts the heavenly paradigm with the earthly paradigm the earthly paradigm is authority it's consol addition of power it's dominance it's top down but Jesus says With you it will be different and notice what he says whoever wants to be the leader among you must be your servant and whoever wants to be 1st among you must become your slave for even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life. As a ransom for many you remember when Jesus was dialoguing with the mother of James and John Jesus said look you don't know what you're asking remember that oh Jesus can you have one sit on the right and on the other on the left he said you don't know what you're asking and then he asked James and John are you able to drink of the cop that I'm able to drink of and he said oh yes we're able when you look at history James was the 1st one to be martyred. John live the longest of all enduring privation and exile and when you look at the Beatitudes men we study that the highest place in the Christian experience that you can be persecution persecution blessid are the persecuted for theirs is the kingdom of heaven and the desire of a just says fellowship with Christ in his suffering is the highest honor that can be bestowed upon Christians while but you say David come on I mean if you follow this paradigm who is going to be conference President. Our union president our division presidents I mean in this model its descendants see I mean if someone has to lead right and there's this interesting model when you read scripture it is the down model in other words you see the intention of the Christian is to descend to serve but it is always the Lord that calls a person to a position it is what we call passive ascendancy. In other words the intention of the Christian is not to seek the highest place but to descend to serve others and in the midst of serving God says you know what I have called you remember what happened to David he was tending sheep he wasn't politicking to be king and the Lord called him to be king you look at Moses also tending sheep and the Lord called him to be a leader you see elation while he was ploughing with the servants he was called to be a prophet these individuals were always called by God but they were never politicking for a position they were not seeking to ascend they were seeking to descend and serve and I would add if the Lord calls us we better fate by the grace of God I will accept but that is not the intention of the Christian to move up the Lord calls up it is a passive ascendancy we can see this illustrated in the trajectory of Jesus in Philip in chapter 2 the Bible presents the down the path Jesus becomes a servant therefore God elevated him Jesus to the place of highest honor it's the down the path but it is God that called Jesus up God the Father in the context of that verse we see this again here in James Chapter 4 verse 10 humble yourselves in the side of the Lord The Descendants ipad and he will lift us up the Lord's the one that calls us to a position is not because we are seeking this position now this is the irony that we find in the Bible. The sound of Revelation chapter 3 verse 21 to him who overcomes I will grant to sit with me on my throne remember what Lucifer wanted Lucifer wanted to sit on the throne of God Those who take the down path to service will occupy the throne where Lucifer hope to rest the descendants see model and God says look I will invite you to sit with me on my throne we see the contrast in models here again the ascendancy model the model of Lucifer dominance oriented the consolidation of power the seeking of self promotion to move up we see the Christ model the descendants see incarnational model not toward consolidation but toward in power meant I. When I began ministry came to a utter shock my 1st camp meeting was hired straight out of seminary in May shortly thereafter we had can't meeting and I did not understand that the week before camp meeting much like we do here in the last conference we have one week of preparation this is a conference that really invested in their camp meeting so we would have to come out there and prepare the grounds for the church members that would arrive open words of 7000 on the weekend this was a major major operation and during camp pitch one of the jobs that everyone wanted to avoid like the plague was the job of driving stakes that were 6 feet tall and there were literally hundreds of the stakes. And you just prayed that it rained before so it made the soil a lot easier to drive the stakes into and and for some odd reason they picked the smallest pastor every year. That I was in this conference to be on the state crew I mean I actually got a promotion I was made leader of a state crew I just can't understand and so we would arrive and I would be given a map as to my territory hundreds of stakes and we would have to drive these with a stake driver that was to me very heavy It took 2 of us to drive the stakes and yet to be careful because some passers they would. Go too high and it would catch still the edge of that stake and it would come back and fall on their heads and they would be profi slee bleeding they have to be taken off to the emergency room and this was a very difficult task our bones are jarring from from just the constant pounding up and down up and down blisters I would always wake up the 2nd day immobilized unable to move because these were not muscles that I was accustomed to be using I mean it was just dreadful work to rest and the conference officials would ride around in their golf carts. Supervising you know and I naturally assume that these individuals had a lot of things to do so I wasn't resentful but I was envious I wanted to ascend and I said someday. I'm going to be a conference official and I'm going to ride around in those golf carts while those P.C. ons like me are pounding those stakes and I remember my 1st camp meeting I was out there pounding the stakes never forget it conference President drove up in his golf car. It's that old Lord I'm in trouble now because if the stakes weren't straight as an arrow they had to be pulled out and done all over again and the conference President stopped his golf cart and he does and. Got off his golf cart and said what he's going to do got its gloves on and 4 hours shoulder to shoulder with an ordained pastors like myself. Pounded those steaks sweated with the rest of us and I want to tell you it did something to me. And I said in my heart where you go I will go. Like Ruth where you die I will die there will I be buried I will be in this conference forever you know that was my mentality because I saw someone that was in the incarnational model of of the sending to serve like the rest of us I mean how much more when we look at Jesus and we see that heaven literally came down Jesus could have sat up in heaven but he comes down in the incarnational model he Service washes feet and dies on the cross what a revelation of the character of God Amen and as we meditate on this there is something that happens within the human heart when we see Christ coming down this is not an exception to his character this is the essence of who God is and the grace of God touches our hearts and reproduces this same descendants see. In service to our fellow man a man what would our world be like if it didn't matter what class of society you were or what educational status you were if in the community here in Anchorage we practiced incarnational ministry. Where we would come down to serve and to sacrifice and to touch hearts this is what Jesus wants to do for each one of us when read this passage. Or more time in your relationships with one another have the same mindset as Jesus Christ who being the very nature of God did not consider equality with God something to be used to Means own advantage rather he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant let us pray. Our Father in heaven we thank you for this revelation of the very essence of who God is that you came down and descended in incarnational ministry to serve and father I for one have without Jesus always want to ascend but Father we thank you for the example of Jesus and for the grace of God that can reproduce in US This same mentality of downward mobility to serve in incarnational ministry. I pray that the character of Christ will be reproduced in each one of us that as we go out into the community in our homes that people would see. The humility and the service in the sacrifice of Christ portrayed in our lives May the God of peace work in us both to willing to do of your good pleasure we ask the sings in Jesus' name. Amen. This media was brought to you by audio verse a website dedicated to spreading God's word through free sermon audio and much more if you would like to know more about audio verse if you would like to listen to more sermons lead to visit W W W audio verse or.


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