If I Became a Garden Slug

When you say Incarnation think humiliation.

The Infinite One clothed himself in dust. The Mighty One wrapped himself in weakness.

I don’t like to be humbled.  I want to be honored.  Have you ever been in a meeting and someone says, “I want to honor someone this morning.  I know he wouldn’t want me to say these things about him, but…” and you’re thinking, say my name!  Say my name!”  Sadly I’ve thought that.

Once a number of my friends and I went golfing on a rainy day. I’m not a golfer – I went to hang out with my buddies. I did terribly all day. I think my friends quit keeping my score on the second hole. By the last hole I was exasperated. I said, “I’m going to smash this ball as hard as I can. It’s going the whole way to the hole in one stroke.”

I ratcheted the club back farther and farther, discs in my back popping. Then I swung. The club hummed louder and louder as it cut through the air, finally breaking the sound barrier. Then the head of the club plowed into the turf a full foot in front of the ball, launching a basketball-sized divot into the atmosphere. The powerful torque generated by my aborted swing sent my feet arcing into the air. I hung there suspended between heaven and earth for a full minute, then came crashing down in the wet grass on my back, my arms and legs flailing like a tipped cow. My friends erupted into wild shrieks of laughter, squealing like stuck pigs. “I wish I had a video camera,” one howled, “I’d be $10,000 richer.” Any vestiges of pride, honor and dignity that I had were stripped away in one humiliating moment.  But any humiliation I’ve experienced is nothing compared to Christ’s.

Christ’s humiliation was infinite.

Christ’s humiliation is vastly different from any we experience. When we’re humbled, we really don’t have all that far to fall. If I became a garden slug, it wouldn’t compare to Christ’s humiliation because he was infinitely exalted above all his creation.

Christ’s humiliation was willing.

I don’t gravitate toward humiliation. I don’t wake up saying, “I hope something humiliating happens to me today.” Jesus chose humiliation because it was his Father’s will. In Hebrews 10:7 Jesus says, “Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.”

The Father’s will was for Jesus to take on flesh and be subject to human parents. The Father’s will was for Jesus to be misunderstood, mocked and rejected. The Father’s will was to crush Jesus (Is 53:10). Jesus delighted in all his Father’s will. He said “No one takes [my life] from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.” He “made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant…he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Php 2.7-8).

Christ took on a human body subject to hunger, thirst, and weariness. He readily embraced the whip, the crown of thorns, the nails, and the wrath of God. He didn’t run the other way like Jonah. He didn’t try to excuse himself like Moses. He didn’t try to protect himself like Peter. He was eager and willing to be humiliated.

I want to imitate Christ.

I want to willingly take on lowly tasks for the Lord. I want to eagerly serve when it’s inconvenient. If Christ willingly humbled himself, I want to willingly humble myself for him.

Originally posted Dec. 19, 2007

  • Jennifer Altrogge

    “If I became a garden slug, it wouldn’t compare to Christ’s humiliation because he was infinitely exalted above all his creation.” Thank you. The application you drew was helpful for me in connecting Christ’s humility in His life on earth and at the cross, to His command for me to serve.

  • Mark Altrogge

    Thanks for your comment, Jen. You’ve always been a cheerful, humble servant. I’m thankful for you.

    Mark

  • photini

    If the world know the force of Christ’s words, “Learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart,” then the whole world, the whole universe, would abandon all other knowledge for to study this heavenly science. Men are ignorant of the power of Christ’s humility, and that is why they aspire to the things of this earth; but without the Holy spirit they cannot know the force of these words of Christ. But he who has learned will never relinquish his knowledge, even were he to be offered all the kingdoms of the world.

    O Lord, grant me thy humility, that I may be filled with Thy love.

    My soul thirsts after the humility of Christ, and yearns for it day and night.

    When the soul comes to know the Lord by the Holy Spirit, she stands in everlasting wonder before God’s compassion and majesty, and His might. But if the soul has not yet learned but is only learning humility, she will be subject to vicissitudes. And if a man will not learn humility, love and goodness, the Lord will not let that man to know Him.

    ~St. Silouan the Athonite

    • MarkAltrogge

      great quote photini! We don't tend to think of humility as powerful. I might have to steal this quote from you…

      • Photini

        Hey, it's not MY quote. Go ahead and use it. Just make sure you give credit to St. Silouan the Athonite.

        I almost posted something else, but thought what St. Silouan said was more on topic.
        But perhaps you'd like to use "my" other thought as the basis for a blog later.
        As we Orthodox are already in "advent" (for us called the Nativity Fast) I'm reading a lot of great stuff these days that I don't take time for during the year. Like this:

        Jesus lay as an infant in the cavern in the reign of Caesar Augustus that He might lay in the tomb under Pontius Pilate. He was bounded by Herod that He might be caught by Caiaphas. He was buried in baptism that He might descend into death through the Cross. He was worshiped by wise men that the whole creation might adore Him in His triumph over death. The Pascha of His Cross was prepared by the Pascha of His Coming. The Pascha of His Resurrection was begun by the Pascha of His Incarnation. The Pascha of His Glorification was foretold by the Pascha of His Baptism. This is what Christians celebrate each year in what Father Alexander Schmemann was the first to call “the Winter Pascha.”

        -Fr. Thomas Hopko, The Winter Pascha

        (Pascha is Greek for Passover and is the term we use instead of "Easter")

        • Mark Altrogge

          Another great quote! thanks.

  • JackW

    Great points, Mark, and good illustrations to show our relationship in Christ humbled.

    However, there is a secondary point that while I agree with it, I have a concern. I hear you saying that Golf is a terrific sanctification tool and as a golfer I totally agree. But then you also state that you are not a golfer. How can that be a good example for your flock? Think about Hebrews 13:7 and consider:

    R. C. Sproul, golfer.
    John MacArthur, golfer.
    Alistair Begg, golfer.
    Mark Altrogge, Painter?

    ;{)

    • MarkAltrogge

      I agree with you totally Jack. I wish I were a golfer. But I'm too proud to let myself be regularly humiliated…