Avril at Romsey

… and Lancefield and Riddells Creek and Mount Macedon

Something I read recently …

Have just finished Jim Wallis’ latest book, and while I found lots of it interesting and encouraging, and highlighted various bits for use in sermons and articles, this part was what really struck me:

Humility is a difficult virtue to those who are called to a prophetic vocation – people like us. Humility is difficult for people who think they are, or want to be, “radical Christians”. Humility is difficult when you’re always calling other people – the church, the nation, and the world – to stop doing the things you think are wrong and start doing the things you think are right. Humility is difficult for the bearers of radical messages. When we’re always calling other people to repent and change, it’s not always easy to hear that message for ourselves.

There is a real tension between humility and the prophetic vocation. Most prophetic Christians I have known – present company included – are not very good at humility. We are always making judgments of others – church leaders, political leaders, majority cultures – but are not often good at applying the judgment to ourselves. Even when the prophetic judgments we are making are necessary, they seldom lead us to humility. After all, we are the ones who know how other people are supposed to change. We are the ones with the answers. We are the ones doing it right.

… Grace saves the prophetic vocation. The knowledge and experience of grace can ease the seriousness with which we tend to take ourselves. Grace can restore our humility, our sense of humour, our ability to laugh at ourselves. All are regularly needed by prophets. Only sinners make good prophets.

Jim Wallis, Seven Ways to Change the World, 2008, pp. 239-240.

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August 5, 2008 - Posted by | Ministry | ,

4 Comments »

  1. Surely the problem you raise is inherent to faith in things not seen, Avers? And if humility is the goal, how will you ever go out and convert the heathen?

    It isn’t just religion. It’s politics, sport etc. too. A certain arrogance is required by anyone who ever wishes to help someone, to influence someone or to judge someone- because it carries with it the inherent belief in ones’ capacity to do so.

    My housemate recently defined arrogance as self-belief without respect for others, and perhaps the latter part is the problem, rather than a a lack of humility.

    Far worse is the spectre of the Pope ceremonially washing a few select feet then denying contraception to Africa, or the politician on the shopping centre walk-through who turns around and shafts the voters.

    False humility is worse than arrogance, as it hides motivations and helps justify the unacceptable.

    I’ve never seen a truly humble person achieve according to the metrics of a western society- perhaps you need to change that- but, then again, you’d be pretty arrogant to think you could.

    Comment by Alex | August 6, 2008 | Reply

  2. “Surely the problem you raise is inherent to faith in things not seen, Avers?”

    So, if there is absolute proof of something it isn’t arrogant to reveal that to people and demand that they change their lives in accordance with it? But because there is no proof that God created human beings in Her image as Her beloved children it is arrogant to demand that human beings treat each other as God’s beloved, and equal, children?

    I do make judgments of others. It is better for people to make donations to organisations that help the poor and fight poverty than to spend all their money on themselves and their family. I make that judgment all the time! And I hudge people who think that they are living good lives but aren’t feeding the hungry or clothing the naked or visiting the sick or those in prison – or supporting those who do, given that we can’t all do everything.

    But then I have Jesus in the back of my head saying: ‘Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgement you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck in your neighbour’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbour, “Let me take the speck out of your eye”, while the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbour’s eye.’

    Feeling horribly judgmental today!

    Comment by Avril | August 7, 2008 | Reply

  3. trust jesus to make you feel bad about yourself for judging, after giving you the moral compass by which you do so…

    Comment by Alex | August 7, 2008 | Reply

  4. It is easier, for both me and the other person, to ignore and remain silent, rather than to judge by the fruits and speak out. However, it is completely irresponsible, and unloving to those who will be hurt by bad fruits. We are called to speak out to those who will take offence at us and we are also called not to take offence at our judge (JC). I think true humility is no longer thinking we are right (rather, JC is right), no longer taking offence at others – forgiving, and being a servant to others through being a servant to Christ (i.e. seeing Christ in others).

    Comment by stupidevil | August 10, 2008 | Reply


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