Philippians 2:5-11 might be the most important part of the Bible because nowhere else do we hear so clearly about who Jesus is, what Jesus does and discover his motivation for doing what he does. Yet it’s easy to miss that the reason Paul plummets to theological depths is to help the Philippian church - and us - discover how to love people who are impossible to love.
Curiously enough, loving impossible people begins with the way we think; specifically, what we know about Jesus shapes how we love other people. When we say that Jesus is God - that ‘though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped’ - we find ourselves encouraged, challenged and transformed.
Because Jesus is God
Because Jesus is God, we’re encouraged to be optimistic about difficult relationships. If Jesus has all of the unique and identical qualities of God, then he is powerful enough to repair our relationships. The deity of Jesus can turn tears and anger into joy and laughter.
Because Jesus is God, we’re challenged to obey the commands of Jesus. There is no exception clause to the call to love your neighbor if Jesus is God. And, yes, that impossible person in your life falls under the category of neighbor.
Because Jesus is God, the reason why you love impossible people is transformed. Imagine you do the difficult, risky, courageous, vulnerable work of attempting to reconcile with someone else. Have you ever thought about why you’re making the effort - specifically, are you trying to love them to meet their needs or to provide for your own needs? The reason I ask is because if you love people to get your needs met - you get to be the bigger person, your love becomes a badge of honor - then I can assure you that you will not find what you’re looking for. Ask any parent or leader - loving people is a thankless job filled with consistent criticism that will leave any of us disappointed and discouraged.
If You Don't Think Christianity Matters
If you don’t think Christianity matters - consider that Jesus is God and part of a trinitarian godhead who exists to love each other and to create out of that love - then lean in and discover a new reservoir of love both deep and wide enough to go out and love impossible people for their good and your joy.