At Eye Level

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Philippians 2:4

The Swiss pedagogue and educational reformer J.H. Pestalozzi was a man of many talents. He was the driving force in overcoming illiteracy in 18th century Switzerland by 1830, tirelessly putting into practice and refining his motto, “Learning by head, hand, and heart.” In his spare time, Pestalozzi founded schools for orphans, wrote several books, and as a Christian, he was known as an accomplished lay preacher of the gospel. One of the many dictums he coined as an educator was, “In education one must squat down.” If you want to help, you must stoop. If you want to be heard, you must be at eye level.

I will never get over the fact that we believe in a God who speaks with us at eye level, who for this reason also became a human being like we are. He stoops down to our level like a parent who wishes to have a talk with a child. He never patronizes us, though he condescends. He opens up to us. Jesus Christ is our guarantee, at eye level. This is one of the astonishing facts of the gospel. He has the right to issue commands, but he obeys his heavenly Father. He is self-sufficient and infinitely blessed, but he seeks us. He could wait for us to come to him, but he is on his way to us.

All this is true, and not only in the gospel, but in your daily experience. What an amazing faith we share! God, who cannot be contained, at eye level, even now as Jesus Christ is exalted. Paul reflects on this mystery in Phil 2:4ff., and the humility of Christ is portrayed as a transforming force in the life of every true Christian. “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus...” If Jesus is at eye level, how will the Philippians relate to one another? How will the people of Westminster relate to one another? For Christ relinquished his kingly glory to be at eye level with us.

To have his mind among us means that we must become quite discerning about our own agenda, which often masks selfishness and a lack of concern for others in the congregation. None of us needs to learn to advertise our own interests, as Paul seems to imply [2:4], despite our being naturally inclined to do so. To think, speak, and act with others in mind is a quality to be acquired. It must be learned from Christ himself, who for this purpose gives us his mind. Let us use it!