Thursday, June 25, 2020

demolition

The Pharisees were consumed with appearances, they were constantly trying to build and climb and jockey for position.  They were constantly trying to convince themselves and their world that they were somebody.  Power and prestige were their primary motivators.  Thus, they were hollow men; men without any depth or substance.  They were hypokritēs, actors on stage, merely playing a role; putting on their costumes each morning before they went out to take their places in the world.  And Jesus wanted so much more for them than that, as well as for us.

So he took a wrecking ball to their finely crafted reputations, and proceeded to smash them to smithereens. (Matthew 23:1-12) And in the process he asks each of us to do the same.  He calls us not to pride and arrogance and pretention and self-sufficiency, but to humility.  For, in the beautiful words of Albert E. Day: “Humility is the demolition of human pride and self-sufficiency.”

But the interesting thing is that Jesus doesn’t take the wrecking ball to our lives himself, he asks us to do that.  “Whoever humbles himself will be exalted,” he says.  Thus, he asks each of us to demo our own house.  He asks us to tear down all of the pride and pretense, to eliminate all of the jockeying and posturing, to rid ourselves of the climbing and building and achieving.  It is not any easy thing to ask, or to do, especially in a culture that values the very things he is asking us to demolish.  But it must be done.  Because on the other side of the demolition is life and love.  Only when we don’t need the responses and affirmations of others to define us, can we ever really begin to love and serve them.

So let’s get to work.  Let’s roll up our sleeves and start pounding away at all pride and position and pretense and self-promotion.  Let’s abandon our manipulative and self-serving ways and begin to choose what is small and hidden and quiet and lowly.  Let us seek to be invisible, rather than visible.  Let us seek to serve, rather than be served.  Let us be more concerned about the success of others, than we are about our own.  In other words, let us empty ourselves of self, that we might be filled with the life and love of God.  For in lifting him up, we will be lifted up as well.

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