I have learned some new things about the depth of meaning in this passage, and hope my readers have too. We’ve looked at what it is to have genuine love and to discern the good. We’ve considered zeal and joy and hope and patience as attributes of the Christian walk. There have been difficult sections, like remembering that we are told by Jesus to ‘love one another’, and that’s not just those we like. Blessing can be a bit easier when we have empathy and harmony, but it is still not always easy.St. Paul’s final admonition is “do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are.” Another translation says we should not be ‘conceited’. This is not an original concept. Paul no doubt is remembering Proverbs 3:7 which says, “Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil.” Or maybe he was thinking of the warning in Isaiah 5:20, “Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight.” Jesus tells his disciples, “those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Matthew 23:12) In fact, earlier in chapter 12, Paul cautions the Romans “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.”
In the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, there is a scene where Indie has to pass through the obstacles put in place by the Knights of the Crusades to protect the Chalice of the Last Supper. The first is whirling blades that come from 2 directions. His father has figured out the clues to get past each obstacle. The first is “The Breathe of God; only the penitent man will pass.” As Indie moves forward slowly he tries to figure out what it means. Suddenly, he understands, “the penitent man is humble before God…kneels before God.” Just before the blades swish past, he falls on his knees…and is able to get past that dangerous obstacle.We probably won’t have to face actual whirling blades but we do face adversities and problems and conflicts that force us to look at who is in charge-us or God. It’s human nature and culturally applauded to work to ‘fix’ the problem ourselves. “Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps” was one of my father’s favorite sayings, meaning, don’t depend on anyone to help, do whatever yourself. We can easily get caught up in that way of thinking and forget Who is really in charge.
However, we probably are well advised to put God first and to kneel in humility. It is the only way to really serve the God of Love. Only when we let go of ‘my way’ can we get out of God’s way. I know it is true for me that when I am able to quit trying to manage the outcome, to let go and let God, that things can fall into place. Good things happen, when we are humble and allow God to be in charge. As I Peter 5:6 reminds us, “humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, so that at the proper time he may exalt you.”Like the bees in the photo of the purple sage (they really are there!) who know their task in life, we can find peace and harmony when we work with God in loving humility. When we let God be in charge, we might just find it easier to bless, and welcome, and relate to one another more fully in love… In the world of tempests and whirling blades, it’s certainly worth a try.
After Labor Day, we’ll start a new series based on the Lord’s Prayer that will take us to Advent. Come along and explore this well-known and much loved prayer using the right side of your brain.