What do you do while the world waits for history? Of all the surprises in 2020, this election was actually on the calendar. We circled the date. A big moment in a world of big problems. And now, we’re here, waiting for the outcome. The humility of Jesus can bring healing right now to a world gone wrong. We need the heart of a Bonhoeffer who wisely understood, “nothing of what we despise in the other is, in itself, foreign to us”
You’ve heard “don’t sweat the small stuff”. But Jesus deals in the humility of the small and seemingly insignificant. We need this word right now as we participate in a historic moment. Humility sees people and God differently. It values greatness in God’s economy. But too often, we continue to define greatness outside of God’s economy. Take the life of Syrian leader & leper, Naaman. (2 Kings 5) He was great in man’s economy, but sick & desperate, looking to be healed from leprosy. And like you and me, he brought his best stuff to his worst problem. His power, his fame, his money, he put all the chips on the table, except his pride.
“Nothing of what we despise in the other is, in itself, foreign to us.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Pride despises smallness and devalues people. Naaman despised a small Jewish girl in slavery. But she alone spoke the truth in his house, “there’s a prophet in Israel who can cure you.” Despising her, Naaman wrote a letter to someone “on his level”, a King. But the King didn’t have a clue. The irony: God spoke through a little girl, not a ruler. Naaman despised the simple house of the Prophet. He showed up with an entourage expecting a palace & a magician. He got the prophet’s messenger instead. On top of it all, the prophet said he’d need to go to the dirty Jordan River for healing. Naaman walked away “in a rage”. It was his servant’s humble suggestion that brought him healing: “It is a great word, won’t you do it?” In God’s economy, smallness is great. Humility, even humiliation, is highly prized in Jesus’ kingdom. We need humility. Humility heals.
Right now, we need great humility, not great hubris. Humility isn’t for losers, it’s for those who locate where God loves to work. Humility in the way of Jesus isn’t trading advocacy for apathy, or truth for trite theology. Humility doesn’t swap justice for the status quo. It trades the world’s economy for God’s, our kingdom for His. It trusts God to reveal his kingdom in despised places and devalued people. It confronts our preference for power, fame, and money. These have no value in the place Jesus is taking us.
In God’s economy, smallness is great. Humility heals.
Humility will lead us to places where God dwells—whether the dirty Jordan river, or a feeding trough, or a Roman cross. Maybe too, humility will lead us to the yard of a neighbor whose yard sign was different than yours, to a chat window with a friendship on the brink. The place of humiliation for Jesus became the center of great healing for humanity. His humility brings resurrection to the human spirit. Our humility right now can lead our neighbor towards the healing of Jesus, who establishes justice with righteousness and forgiveness in a kingdom of hope.
Putting on humility will cost us. It requires devaluing our cultural currency of power, fame, money for a currency that has value in Jesus’ kingdom. God delights in those who choose this humility freely, not just when circumstances close down our options. Humility and it’s friend, humiliation, will cost us. But I believe—looking at the empty tomb— it’s a cost that pays back. Humility listens, serves, and isn’t afraid of humiliation that looks like losing, because it knows even death is not an ending, but the beginning.
The way forward for the Church has always been a holy humility. A choosing of the downward trajectory in humility & service, in faith of a great rescue. One that lifts us up and in, not to political power, but raised into the family of the Kingdom of Heaven. That’s the shape of the story of our Christ who suffered “for the joy that was set before him”. The way forward right now, and always, is humility — a rekindling of a sacred fire in small out of the way places with out of the way people in hope of great healing in the hands of a great God.