Photo - by Vicki Nunn
Famous entertainers, pumping sports stars, audacious politicians and the love of honour are characteristic our time. Amongst us, many pastors suffer from this sort of spiritual disease, “when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are not wise” (2 Corinthians chapter 10 verse 12).
Humility is one of most radical virtues introduced into the world by Christianity and we need a revival of this quality today. Such a restoration of lowliness awaits a deeper revelation of the life of Christ which will compel us to be more like him. Whilst his own disciples disputed over, “which of them was the greatest” (Luke chapter 9 verse 46), Jesus alone could transparently confess, “I am gentle and lowly in heart” (Matthew chapter 11 verse 29).
I believe we need fresh insights into Christ’s consciousness of his origins.
At the centre of Jesus’ self identity was his Sonship, and no son brings himself into being. ““I live because of the Father”” the Lord modestly said (John chapter 6 verse 57). As God commanded us to honour parents because they are the source of our existence (Exodus chapter 20 verse 12) so God the Son always honoured his Father above himself.
As the perfect son Jesus was totally conscious that his absolute origin was in the Father. Knowing this he claimed nothing for himself; he “did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage...but made himself nothing (and) humbled himself to the point of death” (Philippians chapter 2 verses 6-7 ).
The inspiration of the cross provides the key for deepening our humility.
In Eden Satan the false father (John chapter 8 verse 44) deceived the first couple into arrogantly thinking they could beget themselves. If they could succeed in such self-origination they would not need God. This was impossible, and all they achieved was losing the glory of being begotten from above (Romans chapter 3 verse 23).
Deeply fallen human beings still think they can master the “start ups” of their own lives. Paul had to deal with haughtiness amongst the Corinthian Christians by reminding them, “What do you have that you did not receive?” (1 Corinthians chapter 4 verse 7). Repeatedly the New Testament finds it necessary to warn us of pride (James chapter 5 verse 6; 1 Peter chapter 5 verse 5). We fall into pride when we forget where we come from.
Hebrews chapter 2 verse 10 is a pivotal teaching, “he who makes holy (Jesus) and those who are made holy (Christians) are all of one/have one Father”. The Son of God and the sons of God owe their life and godliness to the Father.
We must never forget we have been “born from above” (John chapter 3 verse 3). God brought us into being by sheer grace. To forget this and act as if we can start and finish things of ourselves is a great sin. More deeply, it seems that even when we accept that we should imitate the humility of Jesus we struggle to believe that the Father’s lowliness is seen in the Son (John chapter 14 verse 9).
The Humble Father
The famous passage about Christ’s humility in Philippians chapter 2 climaxes with, “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name” (verse 9). The Father bestows on the humble humanity of his Son his own name, that is, his title as Lord and God. The first and most generous Giver “to all mankind life and breath and everything” is the Father (Acts chapter 17 verse 25). To share in the humility of the Father perfected in the humanity of Jesus must be the great goal of our lives.
Once when I submitted a C.V. to a bishop for a ministry position he remarked, “This is the only resume I’ve ever seen which lists reasons why the candidate might not be suitable for a position.”
How sad the followers of Jesus can be so competitive. We desperately need to pray for a deeper revelation of the cross. Jesus humbled himself to crucifixion not despite being God, but because he fully shared the nature of God his Father. To be like God is to be lowly. Who wouldn’t want to be “like God” in that way (Genesis chapter 3 verse 5)?
The Rev. Dr John Yates is an Anglican minister in Perth and has 5 children and 7 grandchildren. He spends time in praying, mentoring and writing.
John Yates’s previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/john-yates.html