Though he was God,
he did not think of equality with God
as something to cling to.
Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
he took the humble position of a slave
and was born as a human being. (Philippians 2:6–7 NLT)
Within every group, there are defining factors that limit who is included. It’s unlikely someone who is illiterate would be interested in a book club, and a neighborhood watch populated entirely by people from outside the neighborhood would be ineffective at best. Yet there is an even greater value to be found in being open to people from outside the group. God certainly calls out to His people time and again in Scripture to live as holy and separate from the pagan peoples around them, but He also instructs them to “show love to foreigners” and to include them in certain festivals and celebrations (Deuteronomy 10:19; 16:9–15).
We see this idea of inclusion modeled in Jesus, who, despite the close communion within the Trinity, chose to step down from the throne of heaven to invite us into a close communion with God through Himself. From the very foundation of the world, God’s plan involved us entering into a right relationship with Himself and being included as part of the Kingdom of Heaven.
Welcoming outsiders into a group does not mean that group must compromise what defines them. Read through the entirety of Philippians 2:5–11, which theologian Gordon D. Fee describes as “one of the most exalted, one of the most beloved, and one of the most discussed and debated passages in the Pauline corpus.” Grasp onto the significance of Jesus humbling Himself and relinquishing His “divine privilege” so that we could be included in the family of God. Take time to wrestle with how you can better embrace the inclusive nature of Jesus’s character this Christmas season. Who will you invite into the family of God?