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Self-Emptying for the Sake of Christ

“Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” Matthew 5:3 NIV.

Richard Rohr, a Franciscan friar, says, “When we are nothing, we’re in a fine position to receive everything from God.” But what does it mean to be nothing? Didn’t God create us to be something for Him?

Self-emptying for the sake of Christ is a familiar concept in the Scriptures. It’s about surrender, getting our egos out of the way so His life can flow through us. Yet no one, not even venerated saints, are capable of living completely selfless lives. We’re all human. It’s more important that we’re practicing selflessness and surrender than perfecting it.

Rohr’s many books often refer to this concept. We’re all about the new job, the house, the promotion, the money, the accolades. Even our modern evangelicalism is mostly built as an ascending religion barely discernible from American consumerism that’s grappling for wealth and power rather than descending to serve the orphans, widows, and the poor. That’s as much an observation as a criticism, but it’s true. The two have blended so thoroughly that we lose the image of a humble Jesus washing His disciple’s feet. We like Him much better as the Risen King and Lord.

Most of us shudder to think of making ourselves nothing in order to receive God’s everything. But, at the very least, this must be a spiritual posture, a humbling of our inward focus to deem ourselves as “poor in spirit” even though we may be millionaires. Humility and riches can go together, though they often tend not to. Being nothing isn’t about our life situation, what we possess or do not possess. It’s more about knowing Who created it all in the first place.

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