Saturday, October 20, 2012

Gospel Humility

It's amazing how many accusations Christians have to learn to defend against.  Some require lots of study and detailed attention.  But then there are others that should be dismissed on the face of it.  I've heard so many times that Christians are "arrogant" or "prideful" or "bigoted".  To be sure, this mostly comes up in reference to our claims about Christ (His claims about Himself, really).  So if you haven't been accused of it, maybe it's a function of what you're not doing, rather than evidence of your good character.  I'm just saying...

In those moments when/if so accused, I always ask my accuser something like this, "Is there any other religion you know of where the first condition of belief includes the admission that they are so sinful and so unable to please God that their only hope is that God has to pay their sin-debt Himself?"  Well, that usually makes my point.  But I'm interested in a passage that definitely encourages/reminds Christians to not only tell others of humility, but to walk in it as well.

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
1st Corinthians 1:18

If a supremely powerful king had subjects who routinely attempted to usurp his authority, denounce his ordinances and messengers, went so far as to even deny their king's existence and even be so envious of the king's son to point of murdering him... could you really believe that this son of the king could come back to life declaring royal forgiveness and conferring life, honor, and future glory to those who follow him?  Following a dead man?  Oh yeah... he died but literally came back to life. 

I've taken a chance at offending for the sake of reminding ourselves of the truly outrageous claim that is presented in the gospel.  Distilled as a story about a king and his son, I think it's plain to see why the natural mind is repelled and unbelieving of this foolish message.  Perhaps this is why so many are quick to re-define the gospel as "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life".  The gospel puts us in a posture that calls for humility.  Sinful man with a high opinion of himself and a low standard for "living right" doesn't find God's love "foolish".  But the Cross?  That's some foolishness right there.

Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles...
1st Corinthians 1:22-23

Even more foolishness.  You know what the people are asking for-- if you want to reach them, don't you have to give them what they want to hear?  If they are already resistant to your message, shouldn't you find ways to introduce it that is more desirable for them?  What if they don't listen?  After all, why would they want to hear the old story- haven't they heard it before?  Spice it up, dress it up!  Get some video!  The people love crowds, so build a mega church and since they love sports, why not have church in an arena every Sunday? 

Let's face it fellow Christian, preaching is foolishness.  If God really wants to get His message across, I mean, c'mon!  He has the whole sky!  Sky writing is cool when planes do it- imagine a FLOCK of Eagles (I know they don't flock- that's part of the miracle!) spelling Ephesians 2:4-5 in every language.  Or if He arranged for sunbeams to appear in different colors and used them to write, "My son is Jesus- so scrap all the other religions.  I am God and I approve this message.  Thank you."  Of course, this message could also appear at night with stars and occasional comets (for accent).  Why am I reading books and attending conferences on apologetics when God has the sky?!?  But according to His wisdom, He has ordained ordinary human words to get this very foolish (to natural man) but divine message across.

Brothers, think of what you were when you were called.  Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth.  But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.  He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things...
1st Corinthians 1:26-28

If any believer is beginning to "think more highly of himself than he ought", the above passage will bring him/her back to reality.  The scripture couldn't be more clear: when God went searching for recipients of grace, He wasn't looking for an all-star team.  In fact, He purposely by-passed those who appeared qualified in order to guarantee that all would know the root and fruit of amazing things done in His name were established by Him and not our experience, exercises, and exploits in the faith.  As it is written,"Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord."

So, if you are a Christian but have forgotten that God's grace is the only reason you do anything right, come back to reality.  If you are a Christian overwhelmed with the scope, volume, and weight of your walk and work in Christ because you are acutely aware of your inadequacies, be encouraged: God set it up this way for your good and for His glory. 


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