The Christmas Downgrade
By Steve Bietz
Do you love upgrades? Sometimes I question if I should upgrade my phone, computer, etc. I barely figure out my so-called smart devices and then the powers that be make the devices smarter. But generally speaking, we are usually ok with upgrades. A couple of times as I have traveled, I have been given an upgrade on a car rental. To be able to get something better for the same price is always a great, well, upgrade.
Maybe the best upgrade I ever received was a move from economy class (coach), to first class on a flight from New York to Atlanta. It was a business trip and another sales rep and I arrived at the counter at just the perfect moment to learn that the airline had overbooked the economy class and would the both of us mind upgrading to first class on our flight to Atlanta. Needless to say, we both jumped at the opportunity to fly first class for the price of a coach ticket. It was the only time in my life, up to this point anyway, that I have flown first class.
The seat configuration difference alone is a drastic change. The ‘seat pitch’ is what the airline industry refers to as the distance between rows of seats i.e., one seat behind the other. In economy class, the seat pitch distance average is 31 inches. If you haven’t noticed, that is tight and basically means no personal space whatsoever. Upgrade to business class and the average seat pitch jumps up to 55 inches. But an upgrade to first class gets you on average, 70 inches between the rows of seats. Yes, my flight that afternoon from New York to Atlanta was a wonderful experience because of the upgrade I was given.
We know the event by the word, incarnation. Our word incarnation comes from a Latin word meaning ‘to make flesh.’ More often than not we use the word to describe what the Son of God did for the human race. He became flesh. In Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi, he writes: “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God. But made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a servant, and coming in the likeness of men.” (Phillippians 2:6,7)
This is amazing because the content that makes God the Being that He falls into two basic categories. First, there is the Character of God or His Nature we might say. And then there are the abilities and powers that go along with that status of God. The Phillips Translation of the Bible does something fascinating here. It renders the idea of “no reputation” as “He laid aside His divine privileges and prerogatives.” In other words, God is choosing, by the incarnation, to downgrade or to put into remission or into an inactive state, certain powers that are native to equality to God.
We usually put God’s powers into three categories, omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. He is an all-powerful, all-knowing, and present everywhere at the same time God. And according to the scriptures, Jesus downgraded and laid aside, on our behalf, these powers so that He could experience the cross. You see God as God cannot die. He cannot die in His Godness. He is not going to die of a heart attack or cancer. He cannot die of old age. So the Son of God becomes a human being so that he can taste death. We read in the Book of Hebrews this very thought. “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man.” (Hebrews 2:9)
Every Christmas, as well as the rest of the year, we ask ourselves in amazement and say, “really, would God, did God, really accept such a downgrade?” He ’emptied’ himself. And His death was not a first-class death, not even a business-class death, but the economy death, death by crucifixion. Jesus became ‘nothing’ so that we might have everything. The Lord’s Christmas downgrade supplies us with eternal life. Eternal life, now that’s what I call an upgrade!
Blue Ridge Christian News covers Burke County, McDowell County, Mitchell County, Yancey County, Madison County, in North Carolina, and Christian news from around the country.