Humility Is Admirable

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Look at the words of this verse: bow, worship, kneel. To modern ears these words do not often go down well. To the post-modern adherents of the doctrines like ‘relativism,’ these words smack of blind obedience and submission to an ancient, unseen, tyrannical, and imaginary authority. Humility, as a virtue, does not compute with many today. Rather, it is all about Me. To submit to anything, or any other being besides the self, is anathema to many in society today.

But what is it that Christians submit to? Do we meekly and fearfully submit to a tyrannical being? Do we submit for show, in order to earn some potential reward? No. Christians do not submit to a tyrant, but to a lover. When Christians look at the world around them, especially with the growing awareness of science today, they cannot help but see the beauty and the order of the mind of God. In it they see the infinite love that God has for all that is seen and unseen. When Christians see the vastness of the universe, the indescribable beauty of the natural world, and the wonder of humanity, they are filled with thoughtful and heartfelt humility. And they are moved by a desire to honor, indeed to praise and to worship, the God of Love who created it all. Rather than taking an arrogant pride in what is ‘known’ now, a Christian is humbled by that which is beyond the capacity of the human intellect alone to know.

More than all of that, a Christian is awed by the fact that God does not love us equally, rather, he loves us uniquely. In His love there is no competition and no comparison. God’s love for each of us is singularly attentive, focused, particular, and personal. And we are filled with holy wonder at the recognition that God’s love is eternally faithful. We know this because of Jesus Christ. “He has come to help his servant Israel for he has remembered his promise of mercy, the promise he made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children forever.” (Luke 1: 54-55) In Jesus, God’s love for us was made flesh. In Jesus, we have seen the true quality of God’s love. It is a love that is unconquerable, that is infinitely generous, just, forgiving, and merciful. It is a love that was willing to suffer ignominy, pain, even death for our sake. His self-sacrificial, forgiving love, saves us from sin and death, forever. In Jesus, we have seen that there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God. Nothing, that is, but the pitiful and petty tyrant of the human ego with its foolish penchant for pride.

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It is in this sense of awe and wonder that Christians, still weak and broken, humbly accept Jesus’ final commandment to them to love all of creation, and every other human being in that same way. “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.” (John 13: 34) To a Christian, the desire to joyfully “bow down in worship; [and to] kneel before the Lord our Maker,” is a matter of common sense. Though we are imperfect beings, we believe that with God, all things are possible. In faith we see that, wherever there is beauty there is God. Wherever there is truth, there is God. Wherever there is goodness, there is God.

For Christians, then, worship is not simply a matter of church attendance. A Christian who has come to know this unique love of God deep within his or her soul, can not help but fall in love in return. It is this mutual love that moves a Christian to be, for example, God’s good and faithful steward of nature, or his champion for the poor, the widowed and the orphaned. A Christian who enjoys this personal relationship with God, bows willingly in love and worship of him. We understand that, when we serve the poor and the disenfranchised among us, we are worshipping God. In choosing every day to love as he did, we are bowing our egos and bending our knees in joyful prayers of thanksgiving and praise to our God. A Christian obeys nothing less than the Source of Love. It is the great paradox of our faith that in bending our wills in humble submission to God, we begin to know the real meaning of freedom. Yes, even in this world. A true Christian, humbled by the awe and wonder of God and his love, can even give up his or her life in service to that love. He or she will never again bend his or her knee to passing things. He or she will no longer put his or her faith in fame, fortune, or power. Indeed, it is this submission to the liberating Love of God, that makes all the difference.

Lord, like the psalmist, we bow down in worship before you joyfully. We give thanks to you, humbly aware that everything good, true, and beautiful in this created universe and in all of our brothers and sisters, is from you. We kneel before you desiring to be your good and faithful servants, using the gifts that you have given to each of us to further the good the true and the beautiful in our daily lives. We ask your grace in our every effort to love as you loved us. In your name, Jesus. Amen.

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Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site blog.