Knowing God s place in our world
If my people â€¦ will humble themselves and pray â€¦ 2 Chronicles 7: 14.
Some thoughts used during the recent Fast Forward week-end.
I ve been reading the Archbishop of Canterbury s Lent Book for 2011. The Barefoot Disciple â€“ Walking the Way of Passionate Humility by Stephen Cherry and would like to share with you some quotes from this book which might just help us in our consideration of humility .
Humility is that network of attitudes that springs from a radical conversion of heart, and signals a deep, inner conformity with Christ. Growth in humility is powered by the simple desire to become like Christ. P.39
Today humility is seriously out of fashion so much so that you could say that ours is a humility-averse society. When humility is mentioned it s thought of as a vice and talk of humility generates hostility. Maybe because of the Uriah Heep image which is very creepy and ugly. It is difficult to get our heads round the virtue of humility.
Thinking in terms of virtues is that it is a way of living that orients itself to a goal. The goal of Christian living is to follow Jesus and to share with the other disciples in seeking the kingdom of God. The witness of the New Testament is that this requires distinctive virtues which are: patience, charity, chastity and, above all else, humility. Humility is not an option for a few who like that sort of thing. It is not a mark of the sanctity of some â€“ though the sanctified will have it in spades. It is not a mere by-product of exceptional discipleship. Humility is central and of the essence; indeed humility is, in the context of the new values and new life of God s kingdom, both strength and integrity of character. This is what God teaches us as we follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ and seek God s kingdom. ( Wright. Virtue Reborn, 104)
Matthew 11. 28-30 says Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
As disciples we are continually learning as we try to follow the way of Jesus. God s curriculum, if we can think of it that way, is less about learning new things and more about becoming new people. It is not about ensuring that people are being informed so much as transformed. We learn through our life experiences such as bereavement, visiting a developing country, falling in love, caring for a loved one or nurturing a child. They impact on us in a deep, holistic sort of way and form us into the people that we are. Christian formation, like humility itself, is a holistic experience which impacts on our attitudes and emotions, our character as a whole.
It is difficult for us to know how to acquire humility but this image may help us to understand that to strive after humility can be counter-productive if we make the wrong kind of effort or try to capture it.
Being humble, then is like trying to catch air in our hands. The faster we close our fingers around it, the faster the air spurts away. The slower that we close our hands, the slower the air spurts away. But if we hold our hands, palms up, arms outstretched, then air will come to rest in our hands. To experience humility, then, is not to grasp or strive towards it, but to rest as we seek to bless others. When we are moved from within, a humble spirit can descend upon us like that air resting in the open hand. (Worthington, Humility. p.103)