Tag: humility (page 1 of 2)

Giving Up… My Hope for Greatness

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It’s shocking to read the conversation around the table of the last supper of Christ.

Christ breaks the bread, and foreshadows how His body will be brutally broken. He lifts the cup, and looks ahead to how His blood will be viciously shed. He looks around, and declares how His friends, now sitting with Him, will betray and abandon Him.

Sadness, vulnerability, and love infuse these words of Christ.

How will His disciples respond? With humility and brokenness? With compassion and gratefulness?

No.

“Then they began to argue among themselves about who would be the greatest among them.” –Luke 22:24

What?!?

I want to judge them. I do judge them. How could they be so blind? So callous? So unaware of what was really going on?

And yet.

I can hear the rational elements of the conversation.

Okay, Jesus. If you are leaving, who is going to take your place? I mean, we’ve built all this forward momentum. Remember last week when you were coming into the city? All the crowds gathered with those branches? We have to capitalize on that. Your message is so important. How can we keep it spreading?

You’ve developed us. We are ready. That’s what good leaders do, right? Pour into the next group to take their place?

It sounds logical. It could even sound holy. The hope to use our gifts. To fulfill our callings. To spread good news. To bring healing and hope to the world.

But often, there is another desire, lingering below the surface. The hope that along the way, there might just be a little greatness to be found for ourselves.

At least, that’s what happens to me.

Sometimes it’s because of the way my selfish ambition intermingles with my God-given dreams. But most of the time, if I’m honest, it’s something else.

My desire for greatness stems from my longing for validation.

I hope for the kind of affirmation that might finally silence the questions clouding my inner mind. Am I really any good at this? Do people value me? Is my voice important? What difference am I really making in this world?

Like the disciples, I miss the point that Jesus made over and over and over again.

Take up your cross and follow Me.
I didn’t come to be served, but to serve.
Whoever loses his life will find it.
Don’t gain the world and lose your soul.
Whoever wants to become great, should become the least.

Greatness {whatever that even means} will never validate me. It is a food that will only make me hungrier; especially if it’s the satisfaction I crave most.

My significance is not based on how many people share my words. My value is not based on how many wonderful things I have done in the world. My importance is not based on how many people I lead.

It’s possible to seek all these makers of greatness “in the name of Christ” and miss the message of Christ all together.

Jesus breaks bread and says it is through His body we will never be hungry. Jesus pours wine and says it is through His blood we will never be thirsty.

Our Jesus deems us worth dying for. That is our validation. That is our greatness. That is why we serve.

Christ’s love is our satisfaction.


Giving Up… is a Lenten Series asking a question: What if we gave up more than external things for Lent? It’s not a belief that we can get rid of our baggage as easily as we can write a blog post. But, it is a belief that admitting those things that keep us from deeper intimacy with Christ is a good start. {Please note, this isn’t in any way meant to be a critique of those giving up something external. Often that is connected to the internal in a powerful way. In my case, though, I realized that the external sacrifice was hindering me from dealing with what was going on below the surface.}

Seeing Beauty without Decorations

decorations

——

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

–Phil 2:5-11

——

It’s interesting that Christmas is synonymous with decorations, for at its core, Christmas is not about putting on beauty, but about taking it off.

At the first Advent, Jesus set aside glory for humility. We didn’t tidy up for the earth or our lives for him before he came. There was no level of decoration that could have been appropriate anyway. This wasn’t about our actions, it was about His.

——

Holy God, as we put our decorations up for You, may we remember how You took Yours off for us. This season, may we stay in touch with the fantastic, unbelievable, radical love shown through the humility of the incarnation. May the beauty of that act of love overwhelm us more deeply than any other beauty we see. And may we be willing to love others just as radically. Amen.

——–

Evermore – Phil Wickham

“Humble King, Sovereign Lord, He shall reign forevermore.”

 

 


NoticingImmanuel

Noticing Immanuel: a series for Advent. Each day starts with noticing: a picture of an everyday Christmas moment. That picture leads to a verse, a meditation, a prayer, and a song. My hope is that when we see those Christmas moments a second time, they will strike us differently. That we might feel the presence of Immanuel this Christmas season, whether we are sitting in quiet or moving in chaos.

What was it like to be Simon Peter’s brother?

 

I wonder what it was like to be Andrew.

 

Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus.” – John 1:40-42

 

Peter, in the spotlight, as usual. Photo Credit: The Bible Mini-Series via history.com

I wonder what it was like to be the one to hear first, to go get your brother, but as quickly as you find him, to fall back into his shadow. To be introduced not based on your own identity, but on your brother’s, for he, and not you, is the one called the Rock on which Jesus will build His Church.

 

I wonder what it was like to be called at the same time as this brother, and a few other friends…

 

“As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him.

When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.” –Mark 1:16-20

 

… but then to watch as those three, and not you, are called aside and set apart for exceptional times with the Jesus you love.

 

“After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them.” – Mark 9:2

“They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” He took Peter, James and John along with him” – Mark 14:32-33

 

I wonder what it was like to be Andrew.

 

Did he feel pulled between contentment and disappointment? Knowing that he should feel grateful for the position he was given, but wondering if he would ever be the one lifted up? Did he dream that someday he would be the one to preach the sermon that changed the trajectory of the church in the world?

 

When his brother and friends get back from that special excursion up the mountain with Jesus, was Andrew twisted in his gut because of the scene they entered into, that healing the disciples who were left behind couldn’t perform? When that scene began, did Andrew hope this would be his chance, his opportunity to shine and to be seen, and he blew it?

 

When Andrew and the others ask Jesus later why they couldn’t perform the miracle, was the question accompanied by tears? Was the tone revealing of hearts plagued with the deep ache of “why not me”?

 

A little while later, when the disciples argue about who would be the greatest, I wonder which one of them started the discussion.

 

Was it a discussion of bragging or of longing? I wonder if it was a question posed by those who had been left behind a few scenes earlier, pondering whether Jesus would ever ask them to be the ones to journey up a mountain with him. Questioning whether they should dare to hold onto hope.

 

I wonder what happened in their hearts when they heard these words of Jesus in response.

 

“Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, ‘Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.’” –Mark 9:35

 

To Andrew, were these words life-giving or spirit-squelching?

 

I don’t know how Andrew felt, but I do know how I feel: these words of Jesus are so much more difficult than we like to admit. 

Does anyone like advice?

The need for us to have advisers is a message scattered throughout the book of Proverbs.

 

One such verse is Proverbs 15:22,

Plans fail for lack of counsel,
    but with many advisers they succeed.

seek adviceIt’s something we intuitively know to be true: we are more likely to make wise decisions if we seek counsel. Our lives are better off with advisers in them.

 

So, if we know it to be true, the question is, why don’t we live it to be true?

 

I think the problem is not usually lack of qualified candidates to counsel us. The problem is usually that we don’t want advice.

 

Because really, who really likes to receive advice?

 

This past Sunday, I spoke about being the kind of people who welcome and seek advice with our lives. In my opinion, it requires us to be vulnerable, be humble, be pursuers, and be learners.

 

Take a listen if you are interested. Follow this link, and click on the message titled “advisers.”

 

What do you think? How do you handle advice?

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