“And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross.” John 17:20 NIV
Have you ever met someone who liked to talk about themselves? No matter what the topic of conversation it always seems to get back around to them, their accomplishments, or some great nugget of wisdom they have for you. I am sure that everyone has known someone like this. In my experience, people who make life all about them have one thing that keeps them from experiencing the fullness of life. The one thing that gets in their way is pride. Pride will cause a person to puff themselves up to a bigger and better version of who they really are and create a false image. They present this false image as reality, sometimes because they truly believe it is real. The problem is that pride will never allow a person to be 100% true to who they are.
Philosopher, theologian, and contemplative Thomas Merton wrote, “Pride makes us artificial and humility makes us real.” It is only when we take on humility that we can truly know ourselves as God created us. Any version of ourselves that is not founded in humility is a false self. It is a version propped up by pride and self-deception. We can only see the true self through the eyes of the one true God. This is why I love the language of Genesis 1:27 that says God created humankind
“ … in the image and likeness of God … .” We are created by God to embody the very image and likeness of the Creator. If we choose to be prideful it is a distortion of how God created us. Humility is when we present ourselves as God’s masterpiece, nothing of our own doing.
With all of this as groundwork, we see more clearly what an incredible example Jesus is for the world. Jesus had every right to be proud. He was God, the Creator of all things, nothing was created except through Him. Yet, Paul reminds us that Jesus set all of that aside and became flesh and blood. Jesus humbled himself and became obedient – even to death on a cross – because it was God, the Father’s plan. Without humility Jesus would have never sacrificed His life for you and me. Without humility Jesus would not have been concerned with the human condition of sin. It was humility that allowed Jesus to save us.
So how are we doing on humility? Are we willing to give up our rights, privileges, and preferences for others? Does pride ever get in our way and lead us to insist on our way? Can we think of a time where we were upset with the church because something didn’t go our way? I would imagine that each of us could answer affirmatively to at least one of those questions. So what are we to do? We are called to follow the example of Christ and humble ourselves for the sake of others. Sacrifice and service are the example that Jesus gives for all of us.
This Sunday we will talk more about being a part of SAUMC in our series I Am SAUMC. The message will help us think about how we can sacrifice for the sake of the call of Christ. I look forward to sharing this message with you Sunday. God is at work at St. Andrew’s and I can’t wait to see you in church!