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The Essence of Christianity

J.M. Diener

November 2008

During our family vacation, my father, my brother and I floated in the warm waves of the Mediterranean discussing Wild at Heart by John Eldredge. I had been meditating on the passage in Ephesians 5:25ff, where it says “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her...” (ESV) So in my frustration over the very worldly view of manhood presented by Eldredge, the following popped out of my mouth: “The essence of biblical manhood is self-sacrifice!”

As I meditated on this truth, I came to the conclusion that self-sacrifice is not merely the essence of biblical manhood, it is the essence of Christianity itself. As I looked into this, I find that there are many passages that encapsulate this, but none as well as Philippians 2:3-8. The key is this: “You should have the same attitude toward one another that Christ Jesus had.” (Php. 2:5 — NET) What was His attitude? He “emptied himself by taking on the form of a slave.” (Php. 2:7a — NET) He became the servant of all, willing to sacrifice himself for us.

If we are to have the same attitude towards one another that Jesus Christ has, then we must sacrifice ourselves daily for our spouses, children, parents, and brothers and sisters in Christ. To express the old cliché, it does not have to do with big things, like taking a bullet for your family. Those things are easy. It’s the small things, like foregoing your favorite TV show to cook dinner for your family, or interrupting your very engrossing and important work to come to the aid of your spouse, or putting that twenty-Dollar-bill in the offering plate, even though it is the last cash in your wallet. God has given me a chance to practice this with my pregnant wife and it is not easy, because I love my comfort. Self-sacrifice hurts; but it is the best way of putting down the “old man” and being like Jesus.

How to cite this document (MLA):

Diener, J.M. The Essence of Christianity. November 2008. Feb 17, 2023. <>.

Copyright © 2008 J.M. Diener. All Rights Reserved.