Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Arrogant Christian Paradox

"...He will beautify the humble with salvation." --Psalm 149:4

A couple weeks ago my father was in a car accident. He is relatively okay. I mean, it could have been much worse. But when a 78 year old man sustains a whole series of broken bones, injuries and contusions, recovery does not come quickly. We expect recovery to be at least a four month long process. And I, being half a world away, can do little to help.

I get updates from my mom and brother. And it seems the docs have him on some serious pain medication that messes with his brain -- alters his perceptions of reality. He insists that the television is floating off its stand or that the nurses are "out to get him." It's interesting to me how a person's eyes and ears can be working quite correctly and yet somewhere between where they take in information and where the brain interprets that information, something gets skewed.

It's kind of like sin. Reality exists. Our senses take it in, but because we are tainted by sin, we have a hard time interpreting reality correctly. It all gets skewed and as a result we see things NOT as they really are.

As a result, we sometimes mistake arrogance for confidence and insecurity for humility.

I have lately been struck by the value God places on humility. Over and over again in Scripture, we find examples of how God takes pleasure in the humble. We are exhorted to humble ourselves before God that He might lift us up.

Why is humility so important to God? Maybe it's because salvation is impossible without it. Consider the reality: if our salvation is rooted fully and completely in Christ and His sacrifice, then we, in coming into His salvation, must give up all ideals of self-sufficiency. We must surrender every ounce of pride in our own goodness, and we must confess our utter wretchedness and inability to do anything about it. In short, salvation fundamentally requires humility on the deepest soulish levels.

But if we back up a moment, we'd see that humility is not something one works toward or accomplishes. Humility is quite simply seeing things the way they are -- without that drug of sin skewing our perceptions.

He is God wholly good and wholly powerful -- the very creator of all things in existence. We are frail, feeble, unattractive creatures bent on self, be it self-promotion or self flagellation.

Therefore, there is something fundamentally contradictory about the arrogant Christian.

Feeling smug and self-satisfied today? Feeling sorry for yourself and insecure? Either way, your perspective has been skewed by the drug of sin. You, like my dad on his pain medication, are seeing the television floating in the air.

Let's take some time today to ask God to help to see things the way they really are and embrace the beauty of godly humility.