The Unequal Made Equal

by Jan Silvious

It is only in love that the unequal can be made equal." Let these words, from a parable told by the theologian Kirkegaard, encourage you. Phillip Yancey paraphrases the story in his book, Disappointment with God:

Suppose there was a king who loved a humble maiden. The king was like no other king. Every statesman trembled before his power. No one dared breathe a word against him, for he had the strength to crush all opponents. And yet, this mighty king was melted by love for a humble maiden.

How would he declare his love for her? In an odd sort of way, his very kingliness tied his hands. If he brought her to the palace and crowned her head with jewels and clothed her body in royal robes, she would surely not resist—no one dared resist him. But would she love him?

She would say she loved him, of course, but would she truly? Or would she live with him in fear, nursing a private grief for the life she had left behind? Would she be happy at his side? How could he know?

If he rode to her forest cottage in his royal carriage, with an armed escort waving bright banners, that too would overwhelm her. He did not want a cringing subject. He wanted a lover, an equal. He wanted her to forget that he was a king and she was a humble maiden and to let shared love cross over the gulf between them.

For it is only in love that the unequal can be made equal. The king, convinced he could not elevate the maiden without crushing her freedom, resolved to descend. He clothed himself as a beggar and approached her cottage incognito, with a working man's cloak fluttering loosely about him. It was no mere disguise, but a new identity he took on. He renounced the throne to win her hand.1

The picture is repeated in these words from Philippians 2: "Who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross" (vv. 6-8 nasb).

The whole thing boggles my mind! That God would "empty Himself," give up everything—His position, His possessions, His powerfor us! He who was equal with God lowered Himself to become equal with mankind.

In spite of all this, He has not forced His love on us. He has left us free to take it or leave it. But before you "leave it," consider what it cost Him to buy your salvation and what that says about His great love for you. Jesus Christ thought you were worth the effort!

If you have lost sight of just how much you are loved, draw hope and encouragement from these words. Remember that God went "incognito," taking on the identity of humanity to win your heart! How can you resist Him?

1. Philip Yancy, Disappointment with God, Zondervan, 1988).

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