Standing in the church foyer before the service, I’m chatting it up with a friend when he asks me this non-sequitur question “So will you be attending that course, the church is offering this semester, on being humble?” I don’t reply with my first reaction, which is to tell him that I’ve been involved in a lifelong field-study of my own on this topic – and it’s been kicking my ass. Instead, I reply “No thank you, because here’s what my relationship with being humbled looks like – when I spot it on the street, I begin to run the other way until it inevitably chases me down, tackling me to the ground, pushing my face into the dirt . . . and frankly, I don’t like the taste of dirt.” to which after an awkward pause, he just looks at me with a blank stare and changes the subject again . . . I get that a lot.
In the legend of King Arthur, the quest for the Holy Grail is not meant to be understood as an external quest of archeological exploration for an artifact of antiquity, it is better understood as an interior quest – for the cup of Christ will only reveal itself to one of pure intent, one who is willing to sojourn the topography of their own doubt and fear . . . to be as the vessel itself, surrendered to its master’s will. I see desiring humility in the very same way. So for me, bullet point presentations somehow seems to miss the point – it just strikes me as antithetical to the very nature of humility. Like a bluesman telling you how happy he is to be singin’ the blues – attempting to be good at being humble is simply oxymoronic.
Trying to be humble is like a dog chasing its tail – the moment it sinks its teeth in, it regrets the choice. Whatever piety you imagine you might attain in such a quest will be the very first thing crushed under the heel of humility, because there are no half measures with true humility — invariably the humble path will lead you to a life of sacrifice . . . and a life of sacrifice will demand everything of you. Even Jesus wanted to avoid drinking from that cup.
So when the road your life is on becomes a humbled path, you will hold tightly to your breast the things most precious to you, only to have them wrenched from your arms and consumed in holy fire. Then like Job, you will sit in ash and disillusionment, while your family and friends gather around you to discuss exactly how you could have avoided this calamity. So are you still interested in trying to be humble?
We do not follow Christ by trying to be humble; we are made humble in following Christ. For it is in Jesus the admonition of Micah 6:8 is fully met “. . . to do what is just, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God”– A humble life in an unjust world, doing what is right while loving mercy. If we could be humble apart from Christ, we would most likely take credit for it – how messed up is that? Paul sums it up best in Philippians 3:10 “that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death” So the way of Christ is the humble path, and it’s a lifelong course worth taking, but only because it allows you to more completely identify with Christ . . . and yes, it will kick your ass.
I am nothing
But the angels sometimes whisper in my ear
Yeah, they tell me things and then they disappear
Though I am nothing
Sometimes I like to make believe I hear