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The Importance of Humility

Last Sunday we looked at Jesus' teaching on taking the "Lowly Place" at a wedding feast so that when the host comes, he will see you and invite you higher. This has always been a part of the wisdom teaching of the Scriptures, but is especially seen lived out in practice by Jesus, the One who though God, He "empties himself" of His divine attributes and takes the form of a man, one who serves the needs of others, even willing to go to His death in order that we might truly live. Imagine that, the Lord and Creator of Life, the eternal One, dies in our place. This is His gift to us but it is also an example that we are to follow if we are to be of significance in the Kingdom of God.

We see in these words of the Apostle Peter (one who learned the lessons about humility the hard way!), that humility if expressed in our mutual submission. We are called to have that same attitude of submission we see in Jesus, now lived out with others in the Body, but especially the elders among us.

Rich Villodas in his book, Good and Beautiful and Kind, says that one reason the world we live in today is so fractured, is that there is too much to defend, especially though when it comes to ourselves, our inner life. When our own interior walls are too deep and too high, then it is difficult to be rooted in love. Indicators for this will be our struggle to navigate conflict well, to receive healthy criticism and to not become overly anxious when disagreeing with others. As Villodas says, perhaps its because we have constructed a life that needs constant defending.

Perhaps the greatest need today, especially in the light of increasing divisiveness and polarization, is for us to realize that there is no need to protect the "false self", we can let such defensiveness go as that only eventually creates something of a prison for us. In our inability to 'lower the defenses', we find it very hard to develop intimate, connected relationships, or to recover well from conflict situations. As Villodas says, "Instead of seeing companions, we see competitors. We view people who disagree with us as threats to be eliminated."

Last Sunday I looked at words from the Apostle Paul in Ephesians where he speaks of God's gift of salvation as the creation of one new man in Christ Jesus, where all guilt, shame, sin, etc. have been removed through Jesus' self-surrender to the cross, and now the old has gone (false self) and the new has come (true self). Thomas Merton wrote, "My false and private self is the one who wants to exist outside the reach of God's will and God's love-outside of reality and outside of life."

We can easily be deceived into thinking that self-protection is the best course of action but it rarely ends well. Unfortunately the "false self" is easily offended (maybe about every 3 minutes Villodas writes) because it is fragile but the true self, the place within us where we are securely wrapped in God's love, is unoffendable so we don't need to protect it! The false-self is incapable of living with this level of freedom, but most of the world lives from there, sadly.

With love and prayers,

Pastor Mike

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