Humilty and Community

I taught last week on John 8:12-30. It is this amazing story of Jesus showing up at the second Passover of his ministry and having an old school showdown with the religious establishment. Jesus explodes on the scene and throws out a seemingly bravado laden statement of, “I am the light of the world.” To a Jew this would have brought up massive connotations that we today might miss here are a few of them.

1. Jesus is telling that he is responsible for life and creation (Gen. 1:3)

2. The light which Jesus says he is, is equated with God’s instruction and path to a righteous life (Ps. 19:8)

3. The light is God’s very identity and his holiness (1 John 1:5, Rev. 22:5).

Needless to say the Pharisees are not pleased about the statement even though the Messiah they have been longing for stands right before them, why? Well pride. Pride distorts our ability to see and often creates massive barriers between us and what we most deeply desire. The Pharisees would have claimed that the one thing they desired more than anything else was their Messianic deliverer. But when he came and stood right before them, the responded in rage and hostility because of their pride.

This is where humility comes in, John tells us later in his letter 1 John, that pride is part of our darkness and when we refuse to leave it and come into the light we are deceived. What is the prescription? Well it is to repent and come into the light, often this does not happen because we love our darkness or unwilling to be humbled and brought into the light.

All this to say that with the current infatuation with community, and missional community I have wondered why there is so little of it actually going on. I would submit it is because at the core of me and many of you is a deep rooted pride issue. So much so that the church has become steeped in an implicit culture of pride. We are afraid that others might find out our deepest darkness and depravity, so we have learned how to manage in the Christian culture. Just getting by with conversations that confirm each other is doing “good” and then moving on to penetrating topics such as the weather. I do not say all of this to be flippant but to point out that pride is the dam of community and intimacy, even though it is at the deepest level what we desire most.

So humility is the conduit of deep community and will require all those who thirst for it to come into the light, let go of hidden sin, and be humbled. This process is painful and one I know way to little about to admonish others on, but I do know that with grace there is hope for light filled, life giving, humility based intimate community. If we are to drink and quench this desire for community that our individualistic culture ironically seems so hungry for, we will have to seek humility. This means putting aside some of our rights, agendas and even feelings. Often our communities are so weak and frail that one tiff or conflict will leave all participants withdrawing and refusing to play anymore. We have become the neighborhood of kids who takes our ball and go home when something does not go our way. How sad.

Is this how it has to be?

So maybe the challenge for all of us is to find that which gives us pride or a sense of identity other than Jesus and repent (For a good demonstration in this see Matt’s Confessions series). I think I will go do that right now.


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