Love & Humility

“If an experience fails to engender humility, charity, mortification, holy simplicity, and silence, etc., of what value is it?…In this faith God supernaturally and secretly teaches the soul and, in a way unknown to it, raises it up in virtues and gifts…When together with the words and concepts the soul is loving God and simultaneously experiencing this love with humility and reverence, there is indication that the Holy Spirit is at work within it.” -St. John of the Cross

As I was driving today, these were my thoughts…

I have experienced deep pain, I have felt the sting of betrayal, the dagger of rejection; I have felt the offense of close friends, I have been torn by the gossip of others. I have seen the hypocrisy of leadership and not pointed my finger; I have stood in the face of being falsely accused.

I have been wrong. I am often wrong. I have hurt people close to me. I have spoken pointed words knowing exactly where they will hurt the most.

And in all of this, in every situation, in all human and spiritual relationships, I have seen that only two things are worth experiencing them all: love and humility. If I can come out of these situations, whether I am the injurer or the offender, with love and humility, it’s worth it.

I’m not trying to rewrite a letter from Paul, though skimming them last night is probably why this is on my mind. It’s sounds so simple: respond well, taking the low road and love through the hard things. Yet so many of us choose the easy way of offense, selfishness, and pride, so we stay in our immature state.

I know many people who are twice my age and still take the easy path. I want to set my face towards the low, unattractive door. I want to come out of every situation with a little more love and a little more humility.

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The Illusion of Fervency and the Reputation of Zeal

I’ve unashamedly stolen my title from Dave, one of my former teachers. When I read those words in a recent post of his, I was struck by their truth. I, too, am familiar with the illusion of fervency and the reputation of zeal.

No matter where I am, I seem to quickly learn how to blend in to the culture around me. In a church, that looks like raising my hands during worship and taking notes during the message. In a prayer room, that looks like pacing or sitting with my Bible open. But how quickly do those legitimate things turn in to just an illusion to keep those around me from finding out that I’m daydreaming?

Pacing is actually a good example of the illusion of fervency. Visitors to a prayer room often think that those pacing are the “super spiritual,” that they are really “engaged” with the team on stage. In reality, most of us pace for two reasons: to stay awake and to stay focused. I guess it’s just another example of, “Man looks at outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Sam. 16:7)

Just like this commercial illustrates, things are often not what they seem. I guess I’m just trying to say that instead of wanting to look righteous, these days I’m more interested in actually living it out on the inside. Yes, I still have fear of man, but I want to be sincere in everything I do, even if it goes against the culture I’m placed in.

Something Called Hypocrisy

Something that I utterly detest is hypocrisy; especially among Christians.

I am by no means a saint. In fact, as I am sure anyone who “lives” in a prayer room can tell you, the more time I spend with God, the more I realize that I know SO LITTLE. But something that I have lived, breathed, supported – and now whole-heartedly avoid – is hypocrisy.

Hypocrisy: a feigning to be what one is not or to believe what one does not; especially : the false assumption of an appearance of virtue or religion. I find it interesting that these three words are so similar: hype, hyperbole, and hypocrisy. All three surround the idea of something which appears to be what it is not.

Jesus called the scribes and the pharisees hypocrites repeatedly (Matt. 23), yet they were the ones who knew the most about Jesus. They knew the Torah the best, they kept the law to the literal dot and tittle. I have lived this kind of Christianity…Oh yes, when I used to worship in church, I sure looked like I was the full-engaged super-Christian. In reality, I stood on “Pebble Beach,” raised my hands, closed my eyes…and proceeded to wonder for 20 minutes what everyone around me was thinking of my outfit, Christianese posture, etc.

I don’t want to know about Jesus; I want to know Jesus. I would rather have a weak, broken, real relationship with Jesus and admit that I don’t have it all together than have the pretense to live something on the outside that is not an internal truth.

As Misty says, “I don’t want a name that I’m alive, if I’m dead on the inside.”

Jesus, come and make me real.