Thursday, April 05, 2012

Humility - The Doctrine Has Vanished
The flesh seeks to stake out its own territory. It will react when challenged, and it will return fire with fire. It is alive in all of us unless we crucify it daily, and more accurately, moment by moment. Humility is perhaps the most elusive Christian trait because it goes against everything the fallen nature desires and needs. Humility is the enemy of all that is in this world. Humility is the life force that lives and projects Jesus.

To embrace humility is painful to the fallen nature. And true humility has been lost to the church. What passes for humility these days is nothing more than a shallow and convenient response that costs nothing and retains one’s self esteem and sense of self worth. True humility is birthed through death, the death of our own life. But even to suggest such a thing is foreign to the smug climate of evangelicalism in the west.

Where can we find people who desire nothing for themselves, are concerned about others more than themselves, refuse to accumulate material things, and are surrounded by a tangible aroma of something completely different than anything on this planet? Where are those people? Where are a group of people who have become so like Jesus that their own identity has vanished? But let’s take a step back. Why doesn’t the church even present that as a pursuit? If an authentic destination is not presented, then it is assured it will not be reached.

If we pause for a moment; if we turn off the television; if we clear our minds of all things earthly; and if we focus on the Person and life of Jesus in the eternal and spiritual abstract, would we understand just how far we have strayed? Would it not appear obvious that we have constructed a religious culture of our own making that bears no resemblance to the Author and Finisher of that faith? Christianity is much more than a well organized set of doctrinal positions. Christianity is Christ, in word and deed,

And Christ will not fill a self righteous vessel. In fact, Christ will not fill a vessel that is consumed with itself and oblivious to the mandate to let Christ live in and through it. How can it be that we have so neglected this great salvation that our lives are mirrors of the surrounding culture? And how is it that the example of humility and selflessness is a man named Gandhi? Read the Foxes Book of Martyrs and ask yourself where are they today.

The flesh loves to protest. It reacts to a slight and it defends its territory. It compares itself to others. It is disturbed when people that it is not fond of are happy and successful. The flesh measures success by earthly standards, and it is never content. The flesh desires more money and an easier life. It ridicules sinners and exalts certain saints. The flesh has an ingenuous way of portraying a self deprecating humility, but all the while it is enjoying a manipulative pride. The flesh is evil and rejects humility in spite of parading certain humble appearing attributes.

Humility is without fanfare. Its self sacrificing aspect is both unusual and only receives notice in heaven. It is a quality that is met with disdain in these modern times. Most preachers in the west are unfamiliar with true humility in Christ. In fact, bravado is encouraged and admired in ecclesiastical circles. The entire construct of the Christian faith has been reformed, and what is taught as Christianity no longer is aligned with the Scriptural revelation as well as the incarnate narrative. It is no longer the faith that follows Jesus.

It is easy to spot heretics whose teachings are so blatantly unscriptural and self serving. The Warrens and the Bells and the Osteens are ducks on the pond for all us doctrinal watchdogs. And well they should be. But much less identified are the run of the mill believers whose lives know nothing of the crucified life and the cross bearing path. And comforted by the tepid and bland definitions of humility, we all are satisfied to sit in the bleachers of orthodoxy rather than submit our flesh in the arena filled with lions.

And when asked to prove our faith and our adherence to the teachings and living example of Christ, we can wave some piece of paper which took no more energy and sacrifice than playing checkers. And so we must ask ourselves this question, “What does it mean to be a Christian?” Is it just acknowledging a certain set of doctrines? Or does it go much, much deeper?
“And so it wasn’t long until we had this: The fundamentalist knew each other because they said “We believe these things.” They were men for the most part that had met God. But you see it wasn’t long until having said “These are the things which establish us as fundamentalists.” The second generation said, “This is how we become a fundamentalist: Believe in the inspiration of the Bible; believe in the deity of Christ: Believe in His death, burial, and resurrection.”

And thereby become a fundamentalist. And it wasn’t long until it got to our generation where the whole plan of salvation was to give intellectual assent to a few statements of doctrine. And a person was considered a Christian because he could say “Uh-uh” at four or five places that he was asked to, and if he knew where to say “Uh-uh” someone would pat him on the back, shake his hand, smile broadly and say, “Brother, you’re saved!””

Paris Reidhead.
And now in today’s evangelical climate the true test of a person’s spiritual life is his doctrine. Millions of preachers and lay people can translate Greek and Hebrew, and everyone has a Strong’s concordance. We can dissect the tense of the verbs and the Hebraic impact on the teachings of the New Testament. We can walk into a bookstore and purchase more Biblical material than all the early believers had in total. And with all our knowledge stacked up in front of us, we still have missed what it means to be a believing follower of Jesus. We love the word “believer” but cringe at the word “follower”.

Why? Because believing seems so easy, and arraigning the correct set of Biblical doctrines can be done by a click on a mouse. But following Jesus? Humility of His kind? Our Master did not consider staying with the Father as part of the Triune God as something to be held onto. And the Second Person of that Godhead humbled Himself, came in the likeness of human flesh, and became obedient to the death of the cross.

And when we present that as our template, our target, our mark, we must reevaluate what we have been told is authentic Christianity. Yes, we can start the process of repentance and leave the childish ways of this shallow faith. We can present ourselves as candidates for the cross and step into an excruciating realm of glory.

Or we can say “Huh-uh” to a well oiled set of doctrines and make sure everyone else makes an exact copy at Kinkos, and armed with that doctrinal talisman, we convince ourselves we are His living epistles. Or can we...


Anonymous said...

Thank you for allowing the Lord to use you to proclaim the truth. I feel very lonely in my surrounding because i seem to be the only one that knew the dare situation we are in at this time. I have been constantly humilated by most around me, but i count it all joy for the sake of Jesus Christ My Lord

Robert Tanner said...

When I was Born Again in 1968, I thought you had to be religious and follow religious rules.
In the intervening 44 years, Jesus taught me that He HATES religion! And, as for following religious rules, He also showed me that was NOT what HE wanted either!
What Jesus wants is to be Himself IN you! Subdue the natural man and let the New Man, {Christ) come forth. Easier said then done!

In 1975, Jesus showed me what was wrong with the Mormon Church. (The sin of Satan)

It took Him 17 long, tough years, (including having to walk away from my evangelical church when they started getting legalistic), to get me ready to talk to two mormon missionaries and their mission president. When they left after nearly two hours, they told me that I treated them with far more respect than most Born Again Christians.

Humility DOES make a difference and Jesus put Bible phrases into my mouth that I didn't even think of.

Even after 44 years, keeping this humility, and letting Jesus just BE in you, is still hard to do!

Anonymous said...

You describe me, to my shame, when you write this:

"The flesh loves to protest. It reacts to a slight and it defends its territory. It compares itself to others. It is disturbed when people that it is not fond of are happy and successful."

I knew I wasn't perfect, but what a wake-up call to realize just how much I lack in humility. I didn't even realize that I am actually "disturbed when people I am not fond of are happy" until this posting became an obvious reflection of myself and forced me to reflect on my behavior. I am happy when people I'm not fond of are unhappy... how much more unlike Christ can I be??? And I call myself a Christian?

Thank you so much for the reminder, as I am much farther away from walking Christ's path than I had realized. I know doctrine... I have that down. But, I am sorely and shamefully lacking when it comes to humility and living as a "follower" rather than a modern-day "believer".

You are doing the Lord's work with this blog by reminding your brothers and sisters what it means to truly and honestly walk the walk with Christ.

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

It's fine to say that Jesus HATES religion, as long as one properly defines "religion" as that which is done in the flesh. James 1:27 tells us that "religion" actually can be acceptable.

Anonymous said...

In God's program to develop humility in us He often subjects us to humiliating circumstances or otherwise provides sources of humilation in our life. Thus our goal should not necessarily be to remove or avoid the thorns of life. For these are necessary to some extent to the health of our spiritual well-being in helping us develop and maintain humility, which is most essential to Christian character.

But if you lack sources of humiliation then you've got a problem. A nervous system reacts with pain if something is wrong physically. A conscience reacts with a feeling of guilt if sin is committed. A humble character similarly is contrite and reacts with lowliness and self-debasing when pride springs up. But the proud person may not recognize pride in themselves. And those who are not subject to humilation tend to develop pride.

"Why me Lord?"

Rick Frueh said...

I would suggest that in the internet, part of humiliation is attaching our name to our piosts and comments.

Rick Frueh said...

"Provide things honest in the sight of all men."


Rick Frueh

Shannon said...

I had shared some information of reasons why humiliation is not all bad, from the article that ministered to me and wanted to share that same with your other readers.
If it was not Scripturally sound please remove it and the link.


Steve said...

AMEN and AMEN !!

It's part of God's correcting us to be able to accept, and to say, when we're wrong. If the Spirit leads us into ALL Truth, the implication is that none of us are there yet: so we all doubtless have many occasions to humble ourselves under God's correction.

"...part of humiliation is attaching our name to our posts and comments."

Amen again ! I don't pass on any "patriotic," "Christian," or political e-mails until I've done research enough to be convinced they're TRUE. And if they aren't true (about 90% of the time), I let the person who passed it on to me (and the other people they sent it to) know where they can see the proof it's a lie. Hopefully some will be shamed, and search out truth before they again infect their friends' minds with the propaganda of "the father of lies."

You'd be surprised (or maybe you wouldn't) how many people who say they love HIM Who said He is "The truth" (John 14:6), angrily reject truth if it contradicts their biases.

May all who love Jesus walk in truth, and have the humility to repent when we find ourSELVES following unTruth !

In Jesus, Steve