Showing posts from September, 2008

The beautiful side of grief

I just returned from spending a couple of days with relatives as we mourned the passing of my aunt. It occurred to me while I was there that I had not gone there just to mourn. I had also gone there to be with my relatives who were mourning. Those closest to my aunt were grieving in a much deeper way than I was. Although I grieved, I was reminded that one of the reasons I was there was not for my own grieving but so that I could be there beside others. Grief is a communal affair. Or at least it should be. We lend strength to each other. We also jointly participate in the proper honoring of a loved one. And we share in one another's healing. There is a certain beauty to grief when it is done communally and with mutual support. When personal loss is felt most acutely, personal care stands out the brightest.

Humility as mission

Humility is at the heart of our missional connection with people in our culture. If there is one thing the world wants to see, it is Christians being humble. We are supposed to be humble, but instead we have a reputation for being arrogant and condescending. Therefore, people are impressed when they interact with a Christian who is humble. And remember we are defining humility in terms of truth and receptivity. That is, a humble Christian doesn't think too highly of himself/herself, and he/she is open to God's influence and activity.

If the world is hungry for humility, and if humility is fairly rare, then genuine humility can be like a magnet drawing non-Christians into the faith. Humility can become mission.

Humility as openness and receptivity

In addition to being truth -- that is, an honest assessment of who we are -- humility is openness and receptivity to God. Casey helped me to see this.

Openness/receptivity is an important aspect to humility, because it is relational. To be honest about who we are, especially who we are in relation to God, is good and right. However, one can realize one's own weakness and shortcomings, and still remain closed off to God and others. Biblical humility is self-awareness of sin and need, turned toward God.

Luke relates Jesus' parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector (Lk 18). The tax collector cries, "Have mercy on me, a sinner." It is important to see that the tax collector was in the temple and not standing outside the door. If he realized his own sinfulness and need but did not open himself to God, then he would have gone home rather than staying in the temple. And he would not have gone home justified.

Ideally our openness and receptivity to God should permeate every…

Humility as truth, post 2

"Pride is more than hauteur; it is radical falsehood." -- Michael Casey

Humility as truth

I have long thought of humility as truth in this way. Humility is an honest assessment of who we are. On one hand, this means acknowledging that we are not God -- a realization that does not come as easily as it might seem. It also means acknowledging that although we are prized creatures of God, we have fallen into sin and are not worthy of his favor. In these ways, the humble stance is on one's knees before God.

On the other hand, humility is not making less of ourselves than we ought. By grace and the power of the Holy Spirit, we are partakers of God's very nature and co-laborers with him. This is heady stuff! But because our exalted status only comes by first abasing ourselves before God, we cannot become arrogant that he wishes to exalt us. "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."

For help with humility, we can look at Jesus. On one hand, he only did what he saw the Father doing. On the other hand, he did not reject Thomas' worship or Peter's…