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Stage Fright

God uses us and we get proud
And begin to think we’re something
Entitled, great, endowed
But often forgetting one thing
That God resists the arrogant
And gives grace unto the humble
Without Him, we’re incompetent
And in applauding self we stumble.  -id. 

Head Winds and Cross Winds

Of all the weapons of mass destruction none is more destructive than this. Of all the evil unclean spirits, none is more venomous or grotesque. Of all cancerous corruptions and malignant melanomas of sin none is more aggressive, loathsome or more hated by God than pride. Gay pride marching through the streets of Sodom, or White sheeted pride riding at midnight in Selma, God hates the deceit and destruction it leaves in its wake. It is the seed corn of suffering and sorrow, blinds men’s eyes to their need for grace, and sends the human race into eternal death and ruin. Religious pride is the worst. It wears the clerical robes of self-righteousness. It is what David feared (Keep thy servant from presumptuous sins) and where he fell. Pride was the driving force of original sin in the rebellion of an angel of light who became the Prince of darkness. Pride, not only takes men into the darkness, it’s the gravity that keeps them there.

Only a dramatic rescue could release us from that power. As Abraham came to the aid of his unworthy nephew Lot, God’s Son rescued, ransomed, and redeemed us by his blood and his grace.
“Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son.” God’s weapon against darkness is light and God’s answer to pride is humility personified in the incarnate Son, from the cradle to the cross. “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men, and being found in fashion of a man, he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”

It took 40 years to empty Moses of Moses, enough for God to use him. This Prince of Egypt had to be brought down to earth before he would allow God to lift him up. “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh?” Exactly! And from such a humble starting place, we all come face to face with the Great “I Am.” Even Job, who feared God and eschewed evil, came to his fortieth chapter where he finally puts his hand over his mouth and declares himself “vile.” It was then that God turned  the captivity of Job.  Deuteronomy 8:2 should give us more than a hint of  what is happening here on our way to the there called the  Promised Land.  “And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God has led thee these forty years in the wilderness to humble thee, to prove thee, and to know what was in thy heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments or no.”

John the Baptist never presumed to be more than a voice, yet even he, met an attack on his “pride,” delivered by his friends, causing him to declare of Jesus, “He must increase, and I must decrease.”  Isaiah 57:15 points to the benchmark on which the equilibrium of faith and grace are calibrated as a “contrite and humble spirit.” Like a plane pressing against head winds and cross winds, our spirit must cooperate with God’s Spirit and recalibrate with a thousand Amens and thanksgivings to stay on course. Faith does not become unconscious upon conversion, and although we are saved by grace, salvation is not being on Auto-Pilot. The new birth is an experience, the new life is a relationship.

The moment we think we are humble, we are proud. This is not a call to hair shirts. It is simply a reminder that the only good thing in us, is Christ and real faith is faithful. -id.