1 Corinthians 1:18-31
“He who glories, let him glory in the Lord” (verse 31.)
In the second half of I Corinthians 1, St. Paul gives us the other side of God’s grace, which is our humility. So that we don’t take God’s good gifts and claim that we have gotten them for ourselves, Paul makes sure that we are reminded of our humility before God. The fact is that God has chosen us; God has taken the foolish things and glorified them, for they cannot glorify themselves, or if they try, they will become wise in eyes of world but fools to God.
Because God’s gifts are good and glorify us by bringing us to Him, through His Son, there is always the potential that we will confuse the Creator and the creation, especially with regards to ourselves. It is all too easy to look at the “brightest and the best” and to idolize them because they are bright and excellent in some way, and not because God has made them that way.
It’s actually ridiculous to think that who people seem to idolize today are not even particularly the “brightest and best” but merely the celebrated, the celebrities whose only virtue is being well known. Paris Hilton has built a career on nothing other than being famous, and I can’t help wondering why people like Jessica Simpson and Britney Spears get all the attention. The funny thing is that if people read this Give Us This Day meditation in 50 years, everyone will be asking “Who?” They’ll inquire of the computer on their wrist who will audibly say to them: “Paris Hilton: an air-headed, no talent, skank of the early 21st century who gained notoriety for particularly skankacious behavior before milking her notoriety for all it was worth. Now a synonym for ‘celebrated bimbo.’”
Because of the danger of us idolizing Christian leaders and other things, God has chosen the foolish and weak things of the world. Because salvation and God’s blessings are all gifts, and because God doesn’t want us to be confused about their source, He chooses the things that obviously couldn’t have gotten these good things for themselves. And that’s us. Just as we cannot cause ourselves to be born, we must be humble before God and His gifts because they are so obviously not from us.
To the world, we may look like weaklings and fools, but to God we look like His adopted children, reborn in the image of His Son. To the world, we are increasingly despised, for we are bigoted, exclusivistic, fascist, fundamentalist, homophobic, ignorant, stupid, unenlightened fanatics. We have no right to speak in political matters, and if we do, we are told to keep our faith to ourselves. We have no right to publicly discuss things from God’s point of view in our schools or universities. Most of us were not voted “Most Popular” or “Most Likely to Succeed,” in school. We have problems like any other people. If you cut us, we bleed. There is not anything especially meritorious in any of us.
Lent, especially, reminds us of our humility before our Creator and Redeemer. “Remember man that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return,” we heard on Ash Wednesday. And it’s true. We are the dust of the earth that God has called into existence; we are the dust of the earth that He has fashioned into His likeness.
But we are the dust of the earth with whom God shares His love and being. When Jesus Christ became our wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, then we do, indeed, receive glory. But it is a derivative glory. It is the glory of the moon who only reflects the glory of the sun:
I am the moon, but You are the Son
I only reflect your eminence:
all of the light that flares forth from me
is but a fraction of your prominence.
The way God’s kingdom works is that you begin in humility, the humility Jesus Himself manifested, and only when you have realized the truth of who God is and who you are (very humbling!) does God accept you in union with His Son.
And when He does that, you have all the glory you can stand – the glory of Jesus Christ, through whom alone you have grace, peace, and glory.
Resolution: I resolve today to practice remembering who I am before God: first, a mere creature and a miserable sinner; but second, one with whom God has chosen to share His glory, if I will only humble myself before Him.
Prayer: Almighty and everlasting God, who hates nothing You have made and forgives the sins of all those who are penitent; Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain from You, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Point for Meditation:
Use your Lenten discipline this year to allow you to see your humility before God and your utter dependence on Him for all good things. Practice humbling yourself before God in repentance that He might share His glory with You in repentance and reconciliation.