Posts tagged ‘Humility’

A World of Gods

There is a common story across religions of humans wanting to be gods resulting in rebellion, pride and division. Still today there are people who claim to be spiritual, but live with a lust for personal power, not service. They show no respect to anyone (despite deceptive words to the contrary) and use personal perspective to judge everything and everybody. And they are so wrapped up in their infinite wisdom and unshakable “rightness” they have no room for empathy or humility, despite verbal claims of loyalty to these principles.

So, after decades of experience (including much formal training) and a history of victimization based on my race, gender, religious affiliation and economic status I have something to say:

Praying during worship in Tanzania

I chose, and still choose, heavenly love. I remain loyal to The Almighty, not to any religious institution, dogma or doctrine. Service to Creator and creation costs everything, but I would rather be tormented as a child of The One Who Made me than have an inflated public image of importance and power. I will continue to confirm the accuracy of my observations of others before I complain about, or condemn, people. Reconciliation with the Family who share this Earth is far better than humiliating others for personal advancement or “proving” superiority of personal ideology. To alter a famous line from a famous poem (“Paradise Lost”), “I would rather be the lowliest servant in the household of The Divine One than a governor in the world of evil and hate.”

I pray I would start hearing people tell me stories of humble collegiality instead of betrayal and self-aggrandizement. I would be filled with a soul-joy if I met more people who thought social responsibility was a higher ideal than personal rights and opinions.

The life I have chosen is to follow, without religious trappings, the Jesus of the Bible: Saviour and Only Judge.

Ironic Success

As I was in prayer today thanking God for the day, I also had to confess my sins, expressing with gratitude that God keeps teaching and training me. I also said that I chose to be a good student.

At that moment God flashed into my mind’s eye the great irony of that. I am beyond retirement age, with 3 university degrees and 2 professional certificates and I am still a pupil in the Saviour’s school learning the most difficult career with the most-required continuing education of any vocation in the world, namely, being a servant of the Most High God Almighty.

I have taught courses in 3 different seminaries and 2 Lay Schools and yet I am only barely qualified, with many provisos, to be a servant!

May I ever revel in being the least to point people to Creator God Who is the Most.

Not much wonder the Bible emphasizes humility and holiness over works and achievements.

“Yes, furthermore, I count everything as loss compared to the possession of the priceless privilege (the overwhelming preciousness, the surpassing worth, and supreme advantage) of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord and of progressively becoming more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him [of perceiving and recognizing and understanding Him more fully and clearly]. For His sake I have lost everything and consider it all to be mere rubbish (refuse, dregs), in order that I may win (gain) Christ (the Anointed One)” (Philippians 3:8 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition©).

Who Do You Go to for Help?

When God’s people trade away faith in God for religious opinion, whether Israelites of old or self-declared heroes of today, God sends natural or political alarms to awaken them to their sin and bring them back to spiritual sanity.

Sometimes people respond humbly and repent, turning from the off-trail route to the highway to heaven. Other times they decide to find their own solution apart from trusting in Almighty God.

The Lord declares,
“How horrible it will be for those rebellious children.
They carry out plans, but not mine…
They pile sin on top of sin…
They look for shelter under Pharaoh’s protection
and look for refuge in Egypt’s shadow.
But Pharaoh’s protection will be their shame,
and the refuge in Egypt’s shadow will be their disgrace”
(Isaiah 30:1-3 God’s Word Translation©).

In today’s terminology it would read, “They look for shelter in the Charter of Human Rights and look for refuge in their lawyers’ shadow.”

All I know is a Follower of Jesus will never use a secular court case to win a spiritual battle.

Vital Versus Vapid #3 – Humility

Jesus is The Model for our living. Sometimes we skip over some of the things that are in the Bible to hold us to true and faithful servanthood. Instead we hold to doctrines and teachings rooted in this life while ignoring the eternal lessons lived out by Jesus while here on earth.

Jesus lived holy humility. Jesus did not claim divine authority, or cosmic power, though both were a part of Christ’s persona. God Jesus submitted to God the Father in order to fulfill the divine mission of salvation, despite the trauma that lay ahead to fulfill that.

We humans complain about every inconvenience, ignoring what Jesus really did for us. Humility is a God-like attribute. It calls us to serve and sacrifice, as Jesus did.

Yet we humans, frail and mortal and truly finite, abuse messages like that “we can go confidently to the throne of God’s kindness” (Hebrews 4:16 God’s Word Translation©), using it as an invitation to confront God with authority and power in our arrogance instead of humble gratitude.

We claim what is due us, even when it is not due us!

We do not rejoice when God is glorified by our life, standing instead with satisfaction that we are gifted to do mighty things (so we think).

Humility is a forever attitude, which is too often replaced with power over, undeserved authority and claims for benefits here on earth.

On Your Knees

Again today I heard a preacher talk about how hard it is during this pandemic. With the Stay at Home Order, people are becoming impatient, staring at the four walls.

Then we listened to our own Pastor who asked when was the last time anyone was so awestruck by God that they fell on their face in humility and fear and adoration.

God wants to bring the Church to its knees in humble obedience, but instead Christians are standing tall and shaking their fists at government, police, bylaw officers, even bishops and other leaders who encourage we live out care for our community and help to stop the spread of the virus that is killing people. And, yes, at God for not magically taking all this away because we told the Almighty Creator to do so – pronto!

I cannot be the only one who sees God at work in mighty ways, and making it possible for believers to grow (and to name only a tiny few examples:

  1. I am making a worship video every week, and that was not even on my radar before all this happened;
  2. tiny congregations streaming onto the internet and people around the world being touched;
  3. in our own congregational online worship we had a couple from another city lead one of the songs, unheard of when things were “normal”.

I do not want a return to “normal”! I want us to have learned about getting out into the world, of sharing in ways that most Christians hadn’t even considered.

This pandemic didn’t happen “accidentally”. The western Church, especially, has become lukewarm, at best. Where is our obsession with Good News, servant heart, humble community and practice of the deep, God-like love shown by Jesus?

To those who are praying that the “suffering” stop now, learn from it, let The Spirit teach us wondrous things, let us once again become beacons of light in a world deep in the shadows of despair.

“We also brag when we are suffering. We know that suffering creates endurance, endurance creates character, and character creates confidence. We’re not ashamed to have this confidence, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” (Romans 5:3-5 God’s Word Translation©).

Sure, there are things I would like to do, like visit with family, but why should my selfish desire be the focus of my waking hours. Enough self-centred self-pity, demand to be in control human thinking.

I choose to delight in knowing God is at work, that I can protect people around me by following public health orders, that I have more time to pray for others than ever before, that I can encourage others.

As a family we are in deep grief, and that is just the time to show my love for others. I will not act like a devil in brazen disregard for others and with a lust for personal satisfaction above all social responsibilities.

I will never bring glory to God, show the love of Jesus or live by the wise counsel of The Spirit if all I want is what I want.

God inspires faith. I will trust God.
God gives hope. I will live in hope.
God is love. I will love others more than myself.
“And the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13).

Four Ways to Read

There are four ways to read the Bible: contextual; devotional; proof texting; transformational.

Contextual
Here the reader studies history, language and culture to add depth to the Bible stories. For example, “heart” in Hebrew thinking was the seat of the intellect, not emotions as it is in Western culture. For example, in Psalm 119:11, “Your word I have hid in my heart” really means you memorize it. A “hard heart” is a closed mind, not emotional callousness.

Devotional
This is the exact opposite of contextual. Here the reader reacts to what is read as a personal inspiration, not a theological study. For example, the Bible says we are saved by grace, and the reader gets a warm comfort from this.

Proof Texting
Here the reader stops and notes verses that support their theological ideology without regard to any original meaning that may have been intended. For example, verses that can be made to read that women are under men will be lifted up, and the verses that say there is “neither male nor female” in God’s eyes are ignored.

Transformational
This is the exact opposite of proof texting. Here the reader has an open mind, prepared to change personal behaviour or ideas based on a mostly literal rendering of the text. For example, Jesus said, “If you hate your colleague in Christ you have committed murder”, so the reader actively seeks reconciliation with someone with whom they are in conflict.

Then They Will…

“Moses answered the people, ‘Don’t be afraid! Stand still, and see what the Lord will do to save you today. You will never see these Egyptians again. The Lord is fighting for you! So be still!’ ” (Exodus 14:13-14 God’s Word Translation©)

Today these words came to mind. These Christians who, because of the pandemic, are defying the law, accusing government of blasphemy and challenging the police, claiming to be fighting for all Christians in defending institutional religious customs, need to be reminded of these words from God through Moses as the Hebrews stood trapped between the Reed Sea and the Egyptian army. If we want to change the mind of government we need to fall upon our knees in utter humility and pray that God will work something out. Then God will get the glory. If these congregations win their court cases they will feel they have won. That feeds pride, not proclamation of Good News.

“You are light for the world… let your light shine in front of people. Then they will see the good that you do and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14a, 16 God’s Word Translation©)

Repeat – “Then they will… praise your Father in heaven.”

Godly Protest

How do I know when to be a protester? I have protested against the government, very publicly, and this is the basis I follow for knowing when to protest and when to adapt. This is not theory, dogma or philosophical thinking. This is what I have lived, and God grant I will never lower this standard.

  1. If I gain any personal benefit from the successful outcome of the protest, it is wrong to proceed. If I gain then my actions may be (or become) selfish, and even if only the appearance is that I stand to gain, then my protest is not driven by God.
  2. If people affirm my object, and I am energized by that, I cannot proceed. Right is right, and if I need human compliments to be strong in the cause I have no cause that comes from God.
  3. If I gain fame or notoriety from my actions I must stop. The cause is not for me, and if I become the focal point of the protest I have lost the purpose. For example, during a protest I help organize the media wanted to interview me. I had to decline assertively as they did not want to take “No” as an answer. Another person, who had no role in the protest at all, came to the scene and basked in the media coverage, gaining brownie points for advancement. That was as it should be.
  4. If people oppose what I am doing this is to be expected. If I stand for a godly cause and purpose then evil people and religious zealots will become vocal and actual enemies. If religion supports my cause I stop. God does not work through religious institutions, who have power, but through The Spirit whose purpose is to bring glory to God alone, not through financial, political or cultural clout.
  5. If at any point I trade humility for pride in what I am doing, I am compelled to cease. Human pride, close-minded confidence and disregard for spiritual wisdom from Scripture mean I am off the rails.

I have never published this testimony before, but in the present age I felt led this afternoon to be vulnerable and make this known.

May God “receive glory and honour and power” (Revelation 4:11).

Let God Do the Talking

What you get out of it is not what you put into it!

That is a deception from the evil one. Read more…

Five-fold Okay

There are people who live oblivious to the sins of the flesh and our constant need for the Saviour in our lives. Read more…