Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. (Philippians 2:5-7)
One of the great mysteries of Christian theology is the humility of God. God is willing to serve our needs, and to even humble himself to become a servant, a slave who works for our salvation. God’s humility and God’s willingness to serve us are true because God is love. God is willing to empty Himself (kenosis) for us humans and for our salvation. This is the incarnation of love – God becoming human in Jesus Christ.
St. Ephrem the Syrian in one of his hymns on the Nativity of Christ expresses this kenotic theology this way:
“Behold, our freedom forced our Lord to be a servant to us.” (HYMNS, p 181)
When God created us with free will, God knew full well that we might choose against him. God knew our freedom might lead to His needing to save us. Thus, as St. Ephrem notes, the freedom which we so enjoy carries the implication, the corollary, that God would have to become our servant to save us. This doesn’t alter God’s love for us. Despite the humility required from God in creating us (needed to save us through the incarnation), God created us anyway. He gifts us with freedom knowing He will have to save us – thus our freedom forces God to be our servant.
This is the great mystery of God’s kenotic love.
Next time you hear the expression, “Freedom isn’t free”, think about what our freedom cost God.