THE PROGESSIVE MOVEMENT
I Pet.5: …Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.
Acts 20:19 19 Serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations…
Considering the greatness of God and the weakness of man it should be an almost natural thing to be humble. And considering what man desperately needed and what God has graciously provided, humility should be a given among those who have come to eternal life through faith in Christ Jesus. And yet the reality is that not only is humility an elusive trait, but we as believers have by and large ignored it, to say nothing of earnestly seeking it. This is most unfortunate and even grievous since it strikes at the very core of what it means to be a follower of Christ.
But there is a most repulsive residual effect of rejecting a consistent pursuit of godly humility and that is that where there is no humility then human hubris and even idolatry rises in its place. As humility is the path to glorifying God, so is self righteousness the path to human glory which is little more than a sham and a mirage. Can there be anything more despicable and hollow than the pretence called human glory? The only glory man can have must be only through Christ Himself and even that reflects back to our Wonderful Redeemer! Humility is essential if we hope to worship Christ is spirit and in truth. But the western church has rejected such humility and so doing our worship is not only unacceptable in His sight, but it is repulsive arrogance. With all our elaborate music and visuals we have in large part been worshiping our worship and not the Risen and Glorified Christ.
Phil.2: If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies,2 Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.
3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
This portion of Scripture is a mind bending profound teaching which when understood and embraced with deep meditation cannot but alter our minds, our hearts, and our entire beings. So often glossed over or used to present who Christ was and what He has done, one of the obvious teachings is overlooked or at least minimized. Do you have ears to hear and hearts to receive? Well all of us must repent on a consistent basis when we consider what the Spirit has demanded of us as it pertains to humility. Can you take undistracted time to meditate upon what Jesus has done and the humility He embraced just by coming in the likeness of sinful man?
I mean just the incarnation is a colossal exhibition of selfless humility that is far beyond us. That God would come in the likeness as one of His enemies is quite the human conundrum if we ever stop to give it the appropriate meditative understanding. I have had many times when I did not even like myself, and yet the Creator comes in my likeness when in fact He created man in His own likeness. The depth of that kind of humility cannot be plumbed by the human mind although it should be honored by those who know Jesus.
But as we honor the incarnation we are called to emulate the essence of its humility. Even that is a great and privileged calling. But we are not allowed to stop there. You see Bethlehem was just the beginning of the eternal plan of our inconceivable Savior. Before the first light shined; before the first star was formed; before the trees were made or the waters covered the earth or the dry land appeared; before the first whale or dog or lion was created or even before the dust swirled into a human being called Adam, God’s plan had already been set by His eternal decree. And hidden inside that eternal plan were aspects that were unfathomable to the natural mind. In fact that is exactly why so many reject God’s offering of redemption today.
The natural man cannot understand the things of the Spirit, and the thought that God would come as a man and even die such a gruesome and public death when He could have destroyed us all is foreign to the self interests of man. We desire a God of great power who is on our side and who hates those who we hate and gives us what we want. A suffering and dying Jew on a Roman cross is actually repulsive and at odds with our human imagery as to what our superhero god should look like. At the core of our fleshly desires is a god who is actually a God-like human who represents us in divine form. Yes, the natural man wants a prototype human we can call “god”. And this god will give us everything we want and be answerable to all our demands and wishes. A genie, if you will.
But of course all that is diabolical nonsense. The Creator laid aside the power of His deity for a short season, and in an act beyond all understanding, this Creator became obedient unto death, even the death of that rugged cross. Oh my…oh my. Can you not feel the goose bumps and the tears welling up? What kind of love can this be? And there must be a word that soars way beyond the word “humility” as it pertains to what Jesus suffered at the cross. But gaze deeply at the cross and that Redeemer and all that blood and gore, and as you attempt to reconcile such a scene please also remember that the abject humility you are seeing is what the Spirit uses to call us into our own humility.
The template for the believer’s humility is not just allowing a car to cut in front of you, or holding open a door for someone else, or not replying to someone’s criticism of you. Oh no, our template is this cross. I have a very difficult time imagining what that kind of humility looks like and reveals itself in an earthly life because the church has spent such an embarrassingly little time even speaking about it to say nothing of a sacrificial pursuit of it. Think about that. What must be our spiritual template finds little room in the church. And when humility is dealt with it is some shallow definitions that cost little and reflect a Gandhi-like essence and not the essence of the Suffering Redeemer.
So with all the bellicose rhetoric and the political speech and the verbal invectives leveled at sinners, where is the cross and the humility that must come with it? With all the television evangelists and their superhero status what kind of Jesus is being presented? With all the patriotic hubris and national pride where did that cross go? You see, we have taken that cross and repacked it with what makes us happy and what makes us feel superior when in fact that is completely at odds with what the cross is and what it calls us to. That is exactly why the cross is absent from Christian television because it distracts people from all the messages of prosperity and elevated self images.
But let us turn our full attention to our Redeemer and His cross. It is not enough to reprove false teachers and heretics, or even to point out the obvious compromise of the visible church. Let us submit to the Spirit and take responsibility for our own lives. I look at my own life and see so many violations of the Spirit as it pertains to the humility to which I have been called. How many of my thoughts are wrought with self righteousness? How can I allow my mind to feats upon the hubris of television and politics and American superiority and yet claim to be following Jesus? Yes, let us all take an uncomfortable inventory and set our hearts to be circumcised by the scalpel of His Word until we are once again in pursuit if His very heart. This will take more than just the obligatory head knowledge or a benign checklist. This is a sacrificial and sacred journey within an eternal realm. This is what it actually means to follow Jesus.
Now is the time to reject the continuing movement toward human glory and see it for the lie that it is. We have been granted salvation’s grace through that majestic cross. It is now time to pick up our own cross and follow Him.