Good Friday and Easter point to Jesus as example of ubuntu

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, March 29, 2018

“Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.” Yes, I’m aware that this song has become associated with the Christmas season. But as a Christian, I believe its inspiring message is particularly relevant for this season of Good Friday and Easter. Its words reflect the mind of Christ and call humanity to emulate his example.

The popular song resonates with ubuntu, about which I wrote in my columns for March 8 and 22. Ubuntu, you’ll recall, is that attitude of humility, celebrated by South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, that looks out for the wellbeing of others in the spirit of wholeness and compassion that lie at the very heart of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.

Indeed, of Jesus’ example of love and kindness the Scriptures declare: “Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9 NRSV).

Here, of course, it’s not the fleeting wealth of fame and fortune that are spoken of, but a far more satisfying wealth: our restoration to our true humanity for which we were originally created, and even more, unintimidated by the grave.

I know of no better passage in the New Testament about Jesus’ attitude of ubuntu and its implications for us today than that found in the Apostle Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi, an ancient city in eastern Macedonia near the modern Greek municipality of Filippoi. Sadly, that congregation was infected with the anti-peace virus of self-interest.

The cure was to be found in Jesus’ example of setting aside his heavenly status and identifying with the lowliest of earth, leaving his vindication up to his Father, according to Philippians 2:3-11 (NRSV):

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he emptied himself and became obedient to the point of death – even death on a cross.

Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

This is about peace – peace with God, with each other, and within ourselves – made possible by the death and resurrection of Jesus commemorated during this Holy Week.

By the way, “Peace” is the theme of the 10th Annual World Religions Conference, hosted by the Ahmadiyya Muslim community on Apr. 26 at the Cochrane RancheHouse. As in years past, representatives from the world’s major religions will speak from their traditions’ perspectives. The organizers have given me the privilege of speaking on peace from a Christian perspective. I’m hoping many of our readers will be able to attend.

Meanwhile, as my Holy Week response to Christ’s example of ubuntu, I’m renewing my own commitment to the words, “Let there be peace on earth – and let it begin with me.”


© 2018 Warren Harbeck

Return to Coffee With Warren home page

A Resurrection flower (crocus) celebrates Easter.
Photo by Warren Harbeck