A central truth to Christianity is the idea that Jesus emptied (kenosis) himself in order to incarnate into our world and plight. Many hold to a substitutionary atonement theory to describe the mystery of the cross and Good Friday; Jesus substituted himself in our place for our sin so believers could receive the “sinlessness” of Jesus.

The challenge for the believer, however, is to not simply let kenosis be something is reserved for Jesus alone. Do we really believe in the truth of Christ emptying himself when we do not empty ourselves? Is kenosis so “substitutionary” that it is reserved for Christ alone? Is it possible to breathe in the goodness of God emptying himself without breathing out similar attributes of giving others our place?

This is a fault line for Christian spirituality in N. America. We are being discipled into two different directions. On the one hand, we are told to gather, consume, save, preserve all that we can. On the other, we are told to give, to bless, to lift up, to not look after our own interests.

I think that we’d agree, those moments when we give someone something that is valuable our hearts explode with life. Those moments when we consume, hoard, and stockpile are not as meaningful. Both impulses are contagious. The more we give, we develop a joy in wanting to give more. The more we consume, the more we need to “be content.”

Do you need to give your space away today?

May we be people of Kenosis and certainly not those who expect Kenosis from God and others, but not self.


Published by joeskillen

I'm a husband, dad of 2, Pastor at Eastminster Presbyterian Church in Wichita, KS.

One thought on “Kenosis

  1. I have found that in total surrender (emptying oneself) to Jesus, that He so fills me up with Him, spirit, sould and body, that I am more “full” and overflowing so that there is no emptyness at all. Another one of those weird “contradictions” in this wonderful life in Him.

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