On Sunroofs and Self-Denial

What would have happened if Christ had demanded his rights and laid out his preferences upon approaching Calvary?

“Father, take this cup away from me. Send your legions of angels to rescue me when Judas brings the crowds with him tonight. I’d rather not endure the pain of crucifixion. I’d rather assume my place at your right hand, where I belong.”

No cross. No suffering. No death.

No resurrection and no life. For you or for me.

That would be a devastation. Praise Jesus that he did not speak those words! No, instead he denied himself, praying, “Yet not what I will, but what you will, Father,” willingly setting his face to Calvary, for your sake and for mine.

Oh, how I wish I would respond that way to life’s circumstances – especially the trivial ones that pale in comparison to such a weight of glory as bearing sin on a cross.

This week, my husband and I have been doing some car shopping. It’s our first time doing this, so it’s been a learning experience. Who knew that the addition of even one special feature could jack up the price so much? A sunroof, for example, makes a two thousand dollar difference!

Allow me to give you a bit of insight into my thoughts: What will I do without a sunroof? I’ve grown accustomed to it over the years – having the wind tousle my hair on warm, breezy days. I would be much more content with our purchase if my new car had a sunroof, too.

Actually, if I’m being honest, the thought of not having a sunroof anymore tempted me to sadness. I know. Pathetic.

What’s your sunroof? Could it be that you’re on a special diet and cannot eat certain foods? (Gluten free anyone?) Maybe it’s having to shop at thrift stores or resale shops, rather than department stores, to save some money. Or perhaps it’s letting go of that job you so badly wanted because it was offered to someone else.

As I’ve pondered how the gospel applies to my sunroof-yearning, three particular truths have helped me:

Christ deserved exaltation, but he chose humiliation

[Jesus] did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:6-8)

Christ emptied himself. What an incredible word. Emptied. Jesus relinquished every right that was his, as Lord and King, in order to save an undeserving, sinful people. Christ could have stayed seated at the right hand of the Father, but he condescended instead, “being born in the likeness of men.” This means that he experienced everything that we experience, including hardship and temptation, yet was without sin.

What is your heart telling you that you deserve today? What do you feel is your right? Let me ask this in another way: What, if it was taken away from you, would cause you to become angry or saddened?

Consider this momentary thing in light of Christ’s eternal glory. Remember that Christ died on the cross, bearing sin, and rose from the grave, defeating death, so that we could be completely free from bondage to placing our hope in anything else but him!

We deserve humiliation, but Christ has exalted us

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy…(Ephesians 2:1-4).

Scripture teaches that we were dead in our sins, unable to save ourselves or do anything good on our own. “But God, being rich in mercy” raised us up with Christ, forgiving our sins by his grace when we placed our faith in him, giving us a new identity in his name.

Death and condemnation is what we all deserve. But freedom and joy and peace and spiritual blessings and Christ are what and whom we’ve been graciously given! Thinking about this miracle will cause all of our earthly desires to pale in comparison to the gifts the Father has lavished upon us in his Son.

When we meditate on the gift of salvation, we realize we are rich!

Christ is preparing for us a home in eternity

Finally, it is helpful to consider the treasures that are being laid up for us in heaven when our hearts are tempted to covet earthly treasures.

Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. (John 14:1-3)

Every earthly good is passing away, be it a job or a favorite shirt or your health. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of our God will stand forever (Isaiah 40:8). When we meet Christ in eternity, we won’t care that we didn’t have a sunroof in our car or that deluxe vacation, for the light of the glory of Christ will be all-consuming and the things of earth will have passed away for good.

So what’s your sunroof? May the glory of the gospel exalt your gaze to the Christ, who humbled himself that you could be exalted, giving you all the riches of his Kingdom forevermore.

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