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On Sunroofs and Self-Denial

September 2, 2015

Jesus did not demand his rights but willingly set 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 past March, my husband and I made our first big purchase together: a new (used) car. The lot shopping, price comparing, and haggling were 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 at the time of our sunroof-less car purchase: I really want a sunroof. Driving just won’t be the same without it. I would be much more content with our purchase if this car had one…

If I’m being honest, the thought of not having a sunroof anymore tempted me to sadness. I know. It’s a sunroof.

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-yearnings, 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, as was his right, 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? What, if it was taken away from you, would cause you to become angry or saddened?

Consider this momentary loss or sacrifice 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? 

The Author
Kristen Wetherell

Kristen Wetherell is a writer and Bible teacher. She has previously served as content manager of Unlocking the Bible. She is the author, along with Sarah Walton, of Hope When It Hurts: Biblical Reflections to Help You Grasp God’s Purpose in Your Suffering (The Good Book Company, April 2017). She blogs at her website, and you can follow her on Twitter. She and her husband Brad are parents to their sweet daughter and members of The Orchard Evangelical Free Church in Itasca, Ill.

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