Up Where We Belong (Hebrews 1:4)

So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs. For to which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father”? Or again, “I will be his Father, and he will be my Son”?
(Hebrews 1:4-5)

At the end of one of the great chick-and-guy flicks of all time, An Officer and a Gentleman, there’s a scene that always sticks in my mind. After weeks of serving as a drill instructor to a group of naval officer candidates, Sgt. Emil Foley (Louis Gossett, Jr.) stands outside the barracks and salutes each newly minted ensign in turn. The man who had held the power of success and failure over these trainees, who could make them miserable physically or mentally, suddenly found himself addressing his former charges as “Sir” and snapping off a perfect Marine Corps salute.

It seems to me that it would take a special person and an abundance of self knowledge to serve in such a capacity. Training enlisted recruits would be fairly simple by comparison, but working with those whom you know will be above you in the chain of command is another matter. Still, Sgt. Foley seemed to be at peace with his place in the universe, and we all know that Hollywood does a great job of portraying reality.

This, it seems to me, is the role of the angels. They spend their existence–is it really a life?–exercising great power in the service of God, often on behalf of the pitiful and hapless humans. And then a human–granted a very special one–takes up a position far superior to theirs. In a sense, they found themselves saluting not just God the Son, but the man Jesus. And that’s not the end of the story. Jesus is the firstfruits of the resurrection. One day, all believers will take a place not a little lower than the angels but a little lower than Jesus. We’ll gather in the presence of God as joint heirs with Christ.

And the angels, like good Marines, will stand back happy with the entire arrangement. We won’t see Debra Winger or Richard Gere on a motorcycle, but that day will definitely be a moving one. Congratulations, Ensign Christian.