The theme at church this morning was humility.
I had a variety of thoughts about humility both when I was walking to church, and also when I was walking back. On the way to church, I was thinking about what I read every day, in terms of blogs and messages in my in-box. As of late, I have realized that I cannot read every single blog post or message that is in my in-box, and so I tend to make choices. What that amounts to is that I do not read my Joel Osteen daily devotionals, but I do read Derek Leman’s Daily D’Var, one reason being that I respect how Derek refers to the insights of biblical scholarship as he discusses biblical passages. Am I an academic snob, one who feels that a person needs to be familiar with biblical scholarship in order for me to read his or her blog? Well, I’m sure that I can learn from a variety of people, since we all go through life and have undoubtedly learned lessons along the way! But, at this point in my life, I’m drawn more to writings about the Bible that bring academic insights into the discussion (as long as they’re not too tedious for me to read), than I am to devotionals. I’m not saying that a person has to have a degree in religion for me to read him or her, but rather that I am inclined to read people who (regardless of their level of education) at least try to interact with biblical scholarship.
I don’t want to be a snob, however, one who feels that a person needs to be familiar with Q or the Documentary Hypothesis for me to learn from him or her. I go to my church’s Bible study, and I doubt that the people there are familiar with Q or the Documentary Hypothesis. (I could be wrong on this, but I’m just saying what my hunch is.) But I still learn from them. They ask good questions about the text. They are willing to consult commentaries when they do not understand something. I get enough from the Bible study group that I can blog about it the next day! But, when it comes to my personal reading, I prefer to read things that interact with academic material, rather than stuff that is purely devotional. There are some exceptions to this, but I’m just stating my general rule. I can’t read everything, so I have to pick and choose! But I hope that this doesn’t correspond with a smug attitude on my part.
While I was walking home from church, I was juxtaposing my pastor’s sermon with something that I watched on YouTube yesterday. You will probably laugh at this, in light of what I just said about how I prefer to read things that interact with biblical scholarship, but I was watching actress Candace Cameron Bure’s testimony, which she gave at Liberty University! (Candace is the sister of actor and popular evangelical Kirk Cameron, and she played D.J. Tanner on the TV series Full House.) I like celebrities. I especially like celebrities who are serious about their faith, even if I may not agree with them. Thus, I decided to listen to Candace’s talk about her faith journey. Candace was talking about how she at one point in her life thought that she was better than a lot of the Christians whom she knew, but she came to learn that all of us fall short of God’s purity, and so we’re all really in the same boat. While I had issues with how she was trying to justify hell, what she said about all of us falling short really made me think. There have been plenty of times when I have felt superior to evangelicals I know: “These self-righteous jerks think they’re so much better than me?”, I’ve thought. “Well, I tried to help someone whom most of them were ignoring when she needed help.” I still have this sort of resentment, but I hope that I can also realize that we’re all in the same boat: that I am not better or more righteous than other people, and that I should not be hyper-critical of others while I pat myself on my back, for we all fall short of the standards of a perfect God.
The pastor’s sermon appeared deeper to me as I was walking home. The pastor was saying that things like status, money, fame, etc., do not satisfy, and that, when we truly grasp God’s love, we will not use people for our own advantage. It’s odd to see this in a sermon about humility, isn’t it, a sermon about how we are to have a down-to-earth opinion of ourselves? Not really, if one thinks about it some more. Why can I be a snob? Because, deep down, I believe that there are things that make one person better than another, and these are things that the world often seeks in its search for satisfaction. If I truly grasped the depth of God’s love for all of us, would I be humbler?
Anyway, those are my scattered ramblings for today!