I cried in church this week.
If you know me very well you also know that me crying, particular in public, is a rare occurrence. My only consolation is the fact that I wasn’t the only in the congregation with damp eyes.
We are deep in a series on Paul’s letter to the Philippians – after over a month, we’re getting close to finishing chapter 2. It’s taking a while, but the series is going quite deep and exposing parts of the scripture I haven’t taken enough time to consider before.
Last week covered verses 5 through 11, a poem describing the attitude of Christ. He was one with God, but poured himself out and took on the nature of a man and allowed himself to be shamed for our sake. But the point of the poem wasn’t to describe Christ’s sacrifice.
In context, Paul’s letter is explaining how we are meant to relate to one another within the church. The poem is presenting Christ’s attitude, and the sacrifice he made for his church, as a model for us to follow.
He was in the place of highest honor and privilege, but poured himself out for our sake. He turned away from the divine privilege of being one with God and limited himself as a man. He humbled himself as a servant and died a shameful death on the cross as a means of restoring and reconciling his church to himself.
But as moving as this narrative might be, it’s not what brought me to tears.
At the end of the sermon, our teacher invited the congregation to their knees to pray – we’re focusing more on community prayer as a church. He urged us to take some time to sit quietly with God and meditate on the name or face of someone with whom we need to restore a relationship.
That’s where I broke.
I understand the lengths to which Christ was willing to go to reconcile a relationship with me. I recognize that I should look to his sacrificial love as an example for my own life. But with all this in mind, I was afraid to pray.
I knew how I was supposed to respond to the message. I knew what I was supposed to be praying for. I knew how I wanted God to respond.
But I couldn’t pray because I was afraid he would actually answer.
Have you ever avoided opening an email because you know it will lead to your needing to do something? Have you ever ignored a phone call because you know the person on the other end will ask a difficult favor?
Have you ever not prayed because you were afraid God would actually answer?
The sudden revelation of how selfish I really am was jarring and emotional. Had I not already been on my knees, I’m sure I would have been driven there in the end.