Several years ago I was asked to conduct a wedding in a local Orthodox Catholic Church. The gracious pastor permitted me to conduct the entire wedding ceremony. He only asked to institute the Eucharist for the wedding party and the entire congregation. My memory of that event is pictured at left.
It's a depiction of the hands of a penitent sinner. Each person attending that wedding was invited to the prayer rail at the front of the church to receive the elements of the Lord's Supper. Who knows what was in the hearts of the diverse gathering of people for that wedding? But, each one knelt at the prayer rail and extended those hands. For me it was profoundly inspiring. Each of those worshipers presented themselves humbly to receive the symbols of Christ's body and blood. It reminded me of the humility that should mark my life as a Christian.
That event triggered in me a search of Scripture regarding personal humility. This study eventually grew into a series of lessons that I titled Egonomics: Humility in the Christian Life. It was profound because Jesus had explained humility as the first step of personal discipleship. Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me" (Luke 9:23, ESV). Self denial is the first and foremost recognition of our following him. It is the humility of Christ in our lives. it is Christian Egonomics 101, the rightful placement of self in our order of things. Egonomics 101 simply acknowledges the priority of God and others over self in our value system. And, it is a hard turn. We humans just love ourselves.
Humility Multiplied is my personal take on the humility of Christ in every Christian. In the United States of America, as of studies from 2015, that would be 62% of our population, roughly 200,000,000 Americans. I'm wondering what the spiritual, social, and and cultural landscape of the nation would be if that many of us were actually living the humility of Christ in our daily relational lives. Would the tensions that are so evident in our society be eased if the humility of Christ marked our interactions and relationships? Surely so.
More to the point, what would happen in our nation if the humility of Christ was multiplied in the 16,000,000 members of our 42,000 Southern Baptist Convention congregations? Right now we're known for denominational conflict, differences of theological opinion, power politics, uncertainty about the male and female roles in marriage, and numerous other biblical, cultural, and church issues. Prideful arrogance at times seems to lead the array of denominational attitudes and approaches that affect our spiritual influence on the world around us. Lately I've been encouraged by the calls for prayerful submission as we approach our annual meeting in Dallas next month. Perhaps a united prayer that we would once again be overwhelmed by the humility of Christ as we prepare spiritually for this meeting is in order.
Humility is a strong Bible emphasis. Among the many Scripture passages challenging the personal hubris of pride is Philippians 2. The Apostle Paul wrote---
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in
the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied
himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being
found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross.
Philippians 2: 5-8, ESV
Our denomination will meet in Dallas, Texas, June 12-13, 2018. Already many of our denominational leaders are predicting record attendance and a full agenda as we address the controversies that have hinted division in our ranks. Sadly, I will be unable to attend this meeting. But, I am praying for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit on those who gather. My prayer is more specific than a desire for unity, election of preferred officers, approval of resolutions, singleness of mission, or peace in the mechanics of the meeting. I'm praying for humility multiplied, that is, for the humility of Christ to be evident in the thousands who attend, in the agenda that is to be accomplished, and the outcome that will influence so many lives in the aftermath.
Humility multiplied is what I'm praying. Will you join me?
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