Here's the truth: some people are crazy. Here's a reason why: pride. Because of my job, I spend a large amount of time with people. I hear people talk all the time about how they want deeper relationships with people, with their family and with God. They'll say that they are honesty seeking God. They'll say they truly want to be healed or transformed. They'll say "God is changing me" and yet I see zero change in their lives.
As a pastor and as a Christ-follower, it is my duty to disciple people. That means to help people become or understand how to become who Jesus would be if He were them. (The Spirit does the "become-ing") This process, although different with every person, requires me to do something uncomfortable: challenge people. In order for someone to grow, they must be challenged. This is uncomfortable, this is awkward, this is... well... challenging.
I believe (this especially applies to Americans in the 21st century) that our pride has prohibited our ability to grow. The dream says, "You can be whoever you want to be. Build your life. You are the best person alive. You are the main character in this story." We are Americans so obviously we are the best. Social media is how we communicate now days and it gives us the unique ability to project something we aren't. We can use the best words, poses and filters so that the image people see is the most polished, perfect version of who we really are. This is why people will often say they want challenge but then realize that challenge means taking a look at the wrecked, broken person we really are, revealing that and stepping out of your comfort zone to change. Hiding behind our pride allows us to bury who we really are. This prohibits our ability to change or let God transform who we are.
I have numerous people in my life that say they want God to heal them. They say that they want to be challenged and they say they want deeper, more fulfilling love in their lives. They ask me to challenge them so I do it. Their response goes one two ways typically. 1. They shut down. They don't actually know what it feels like to dive deeper or even take a look at the deep end of the pool. 2. They snap. They get defensive because they recognize that being challenged and diving deeper means stripping down to their undies and seeing who they really are in order to dive in. As Walk The Moon puts it " The real life love is under the mirror of the surface." The love that we want in our lives, the change we want God to do, becoming the person you were created to be is under the surface and it requires you to dive in head first in order to achieve it. Once again, the thing that stops this from happening is pride. We've become cozy and comfortable with where and who we are. Change means that we might have to shed some of the things we hold on to.
The Scriptures speak frequently about humility. "Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up."-James 4:10, "God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things- and the things that are not- to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him." -1 Corinthians 1. "Sitting down, Jesus called the twelve and said, ' Anyone who wants to be first must be very last, and the servant of all.'" -Mark 9:35. There are dozens of verses and teachings against pride in the Bible. The religious leaders of Jesus time were known for their pride. They made others look bad so that they could appear to be better than they were. Jesus is constantly attacking them and pointing out that their pride will keep them from entering into the kingdom of God.
Jesus tells stories like the parable of the two sons (Matt 21) in which he tells the prideful religious leaders that the tax collectors and prostitutes (the very people they look down upon and judge) will enter into the Kingdom before them. Jesus heals a man who had been sick for 38 years. 38 years! Jesus first words to this guy is “Do you want to get well?” The man has been sick for THIRTY-EIGHT YEARS and Jesus’ first words are to ask him if he truly wants to be well.
Some of us (the people I’m writing this blog for.. which includes my self) do not want to get well. We know things aren’t well. We can sense and feel the brokenness in our lives. We ache with pain from a broken heart or the fears from our insecurities but at the end of the day, we don’t want to be well. Being well means acknowledging you are unwell. It means setting aside your pride and humbly saying, “I’ve tried to do things on my own and I’m just not good enough to make it happen. I need God.”
There are two questions that I try to ask the people in my life who say they want to dive deeper. “What is God saying to you?” and “What are you going to do about it?” It’s that second question that people get hung up on. I have a friend who has had their world rocked for years. They continually believe lies about themselves and lose their identity. They put themselves in compromising situations and as a result, they get hurt over and over again. They are extremely insecure, immature and broken because of it. They know this. They tell me on a regular basis that they’re seeking God and want to be healed. I’ll ask them “so what are you going to do about it?” and they immediately turn on defense mode and get angry with me for asking. I’m asking them to make the change that they say they want to see but their pride wont let them do it. She doesn’t want to be well because being well means letting go of the image we relentlessly project.
So, what is God saying to you and what are you going to do about it? Will you let go of your pride, admit you can’t make it on your own and humbly submit to the only thing that can make you well? Or, will you hold on to who you are? Will you hold on to what’s comfortable? Will you continue to project a fake version of yourself so that people wont ever see the real thing? Do you want to be well?
I’ll end with this: what if humility is the point? What if being low and humble and vulnerable is the end goal? Being born and dying: these are the two biggest events in life. They’re also the messiest and least dignified. We come into this world and leave it naked, alone, vulnerable and with nothing. No filter, no perfect tweets, no make-up- none of that matters to us in those moments. Who we are, how cool or significant or relevant people thought we were, how well we hid our broken hearts does not matter. All that matters in those moments is who God is and what He says about us.