“We were sure of ourselves in God.” (2 Th 2:2, The Message)
Most people assume that humility involves some form or other of groveling; that cowering demeanor that bows in an abject manner towards others. And so, when tasked with the charge to “humble ourselves in the sight of the Lord”, we tend toward a somewhat cowering posture – supposing this is what the Lord wants from us. Outrageous nonsense! The Lord wants us to come boldly to the throne of Grace; not as beggars — but as sons and daughters.
There was nothing cowering about Jesus Christ at all. He did not snivel in the presence of Pilate’s Empire, nor cringe before the sneer of His accusers. He stood as a man of towering humility. And those hearty souls who followed Him in the early years were described by others as “men who turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6). Nothing groveling about that. Nothing at all.
Humility is the God-given self-assurance that eliminates the need to prove to others the worth of who you are, and the rightness of what you do. Jesus was thus a humble man, as were His apostles. “We were sure of ourselves in God,” Paul said. And so are those who follow Jesus today. That is, those who are real as opposed to those who are merely being religious.
Somewhere around 360AD a new model of “christian” emerged; one that has altered the public image of Christ to this day. The Roman Emperor Julian, successor to Constantine, found this new form of humility repulsive, as the historian Ibsen tell us. “Have you looked at these Christians closely?” Julian asked, “They are hollow-eyed, pale-cheeked, flat-breasted all; they brood their lives away, unspurred by ambition. The sun shines for them, but they do not see it: the earth offers them its fullness, but they desire it not; all their desire is to renounce and to suffer that they may come to die.”
Jesus was not hollow-eyed, pale-cheeked, nor flat-breasted. Neither were Peter, James and John; nor Paul the Apostle. We should not be so either. Rather, being sure of ourselves in God, we may thereby be clothed in true humility and thus receive the fullness of God’s grace to turn our world upside down today – as did our fathers of old when it was their turn.