The Bitterness of Christianity

Luke 22:24-30 A dispute also arose among them as to which one of them was to be regarded as the greatest. But he said to them, ‘The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you; rather the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.  ‘You are those who have stood by me in my trials; and I confer on you, just as my Father has conferred on me, a kingdom, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

I’m not really the best person to write about humility.  Honestly, I am a proud man.  Its easy when you are secure in a lot of ways to be proud.  As well, whenever insecurities shine though, pride comes around and causes me to rely upon myself.  Weaknesses are not often something upon which someone is proud.  No matter if pride causes me to be secure in my own accomplishments, or to cover for my weaknesses, it has nothing to do with God.

Pride has made me miss so much in my life.  When I’ve been too proud to speak to that person, or too proud to take an opportunity I may see as beneath me, I’ve missed out on something.  Pride eats away at anything I rely upon until I’m left with only myself.  It is caustic to relationships, creates divisions, and is innately selfish.  It leaves me with nothing but my own ambitions, purposes, and well being.  I’m left alone, selfish, and without anything greater than myself.  By myself, my value is limited to who I am and what I can do.  The value is earned.  It is fragile and momentary.  My value can be lost if others think less of me, or if I cannot live up to my own claims of greatness.  Pride divides me from any shared value with others, and hurts me as I tear myself down to find whatever I think is worthwhile.

By contrast, all Christ can show is humility.  He demonstrates that greatness is not found in my own twisted values.  It is found in Him.  If I am to boast at all, as Paul says, may it be in Christ.  Christ shows me that there is another way.  I am not alone on this planet.  I’m not meant to be by myself.  I was created with a purpose.  I am meant for relationship with others, but especially for one relationship.  That relationship is Christ.  For all those accomplishments I’ve been proud of in the past, I look on them with thankfulness instead of scrutiny.  They are blessings for the opportunities that Christ has given me.  For my weaknesses, I now see them as opportunities to grow.  They are places for victory, to grow, to change for God, and to proclaim the Truth.

In contrast to pride, humility draws me to others.  When I realize I can’t do it alone, that I’m broken, and that I have nothing left to offer that is of worth, I am at that moment my weakest.  As well, in that moment, I am my strongest.  It is in those times that God draws close, that I must rely upon him, and I am left with no choice but to accept grace.  I cannot stand alone, so I lean on those around me.  I accept help instead of rejecting it.  Humility builds up relationships.  It puts me last and thinks of others.  Finally, my value is no longer my own.  Value is found as a sum of those who are with me.  It doesn’t mean that I’ve found really valuable people.  Instead, it is that I have found valuable relationships, people who care about me, and that together we are able to give God the glory and find our worth in Him, not ourselves.  That’s value.

Today, all Christians have been given the mantle that was given to the apostles.  We have been conferred a Kingdom.  This is serious business.  There is much at stake.  There is no room for pride.  Instead, we are to be found in humility, selfless, serving one another in love.  This looks different than the world.   We will be noticed.  We will bring glory to God.  This Kingdom has no end.  Come, sit at Christ’s table with me.  Leave the pride behind, pick up a towel, and serve.

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Published by: Brad Kirk

I'm an ordained Elder in the Great Plains Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church and serve as pastor of Leoti UMC in western Kansas. I am a graduate of Asbury Theological Seminary. I love being a husband to Diana and a father to Tobin. Most of all I am a child of God!

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