Although my former college campus was open the public and the area was rather poor I never once saw anyone there begging. What was all too common was people asking for money for various organizations and causes. No one ever asked them to leave or seemed to feel that they shouldn’t be there, but I felt that it was a rather safe assumption that the reaction would have been quite different to a person begging in their own behalf. There were no signs posted but it seemed to be an unwritten cultural rule. But when someone would approach me asking for money for their organization it begged the question of what the difference was between the two situations. Why does it make us uncomfortable when someone comes up to us and asks us for money but we don’t feel the same way when someone asks on behalf of someone else?
I believe it is because when someone asks us to help a third party they are trying to identify with us. They are implying that they are economically equal with us and we find this less unnerving. For whatever reason, when we are with someone clearly below our economic level we feel uncomfortable, perhaps guilty or disconnected. Perhaps we are embarrassed on their behalf. But when it is an organization asking that element is not there, and yet there is essentially no difference between the two: someone is asking for our help.
No wonder it makes us uncomfortable to be faced with a God who stooped to our level. In Philippians 2:7 Paul writes that Jesus “made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” Jesus came down from the glories of the divine throne room to be born in a manger on earth and live a life like our own. This is so incredible as to be scandalous. But it goes further.
The fuse of Christ’s humility lit in Philippians continues in II Corinthians 5:21 where Paul writes: “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” Here in black and white we are told that Jesus Christ took on our sin, becoming sin on our behalf. Jesus became revolting, unholy, and accursed.
In Matthew 25:40 Jesus said that when anyone serves the least of his brothers he is serving Christ Himself. He puts Himself in the place of the lowly in His life, death, and kingdom to come. The beauty in Christ’s humility is that he came the first time as one at our level, a thing no charitable organization seeks to do, and when He welcomes the believers into His future kingdom He still puts Himself in the place of the destitute. How humble His love.