I’ve just spent a bit of time reading internet information about the Greek word kenosis. After plowing through much theological language seeking something different – since I know I have written about this before – I decided ( at the risk of repeating myself) just to say a few words about the concept as it appears in Paul’s letter to the Philippians (ch. 2:6-11) and as I have come to appreciate it in my life.
In many religious traditions, including Christianity, God is seen as all-knowing, all-seeing and all-powerful, as well as abiding in ” the kingdom of heaven” which is viewed as far from us and from our earthly dwelling place. As we progress in holiness of life, we come closer to God and hopefully, in the end, abide in heaven for eternity. Theological and spiritual traditions often refer to these concepts as The Master Story.
With the doctrine of the Incarnation, i.e. Jesus, “who was by nature God, but who did not cling to Godliness, rather taking on human form,” put a new spin on thinking about God and us. Because the one we know as Christ, the Redeemer, entered human existence as “one like us in all things but sin,” the distance between us and God is collapsed and we can know the kingdom of God within us through the teachings and example of Jesus. Just as Jesus “emptied himself” so must we do the same – letting go of self-interest in favor of love for others. In doing so, living every day in love and actions that reflect the life of Christ more and more deeply, we will truly become the image and likeness of God that we were created to be.
This sounds so simple on paper but in reality is the most profound message – for me, at least – that I have found as a goal for life. I am happy to be reminded of it again today and every day in the simple word “kenosis.”