He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8
God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble. James 4:6
If humility is as important as the Bible says, then it is imperative for churches to learn how to walk humbly as a body. Here are four decisions we as a church can make to live humbly as a whole:
1. We worship on purpose. When we sing together, when we give, when we open God’s Word together, we’re not just trying to fill up an hour a week. We’re trying to quiet our souls and prepare our hearts to encounter the Living God. And when we do that, when we encounter God, pride immediately disappears. We see Old Testament examples of this with Job and Isaiah. So when we sing, lean into it. Worship on purpose, encounter God, and you’ll quickly find how big God is and how small we are by comparison. That’s a great first step towards humility.
2. We love first. Once we worship on purpose and encounter God, we live out that humility by choosing to love first. That’s a posture towards the world that if we truly want to connect with the world, if we want to impact it, if we want to turn our world upside down, we need to rediscover. The standard operating procedure of many churches towards the world is to judge first. And there’s a lot to judge. But that won’t help us accomplish our mission of making disciples. You know this with your family. Perhaps you’ve got a spouse, a child, maybe a sibling that’s just making a mess of their life, an absolute mess. Everyone knows it but them. If you only judge them, only argue, only condemn, how much of a chance do you have to see them change? There is so much wrong with our world and there’s so much we want to change, but our first step needs to always be to love first. So that means the next time someone walks through the doors of your church, and they look like they don’t belong in church, or they’re dressed in a way you think is disrespectful, instead of judging first, love first. That’s humility in action, and it unleashes God’s power in us.
3. We embrace the messes. This is such a powerful truth, and if we can live this out, we will be closer to the heart of God then we could ever imagine, and we’ll see more power present in our lives than ever before. In the story Jesus told about the Prodigal Son, which is a fascinating story in Luke 15, a son tells his father he wished he was dead, took his inheritance and blew it on wild living. In a few years, after dragging his family’s name through the mud and blowing through his family’s wealth, he comes crawling back. The father had every reason to disown him, to judge him, to condemn him. But what do we see the father do? And by the way, the father here represents our Heavenly Father,
So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. Luke 15:20
Embracing the messes is a mindset. It changes the way we think about church. Some think of church like a museum. It’s beautiful, it’s austere, everything is in it’s proper place, and everything inside is dead. A better illustration is an Emergency Room for the spiritually sick. If someone covered in mess walks into a museum, they would be out of place. If a mess walks into an E.R., they’re supposed to be embraced. When we embrace the messes we live out the heart of our Heavenly Father.
4. We live grace and truth. If we do our job right, our church buildings will be filled up with people that don’t look like or act like they belong in church. If we do our job right and really reach out we’ll have people streaming into our buildings that don’t yet believe what we believe, they’ll be curious but they’re not sure yet, and so their lifestyle might not fall in line with what we believe. In short, this building may start having people that we want to look a little sideways at. To live humbly, we need to embrace the mindset of Jesus.
For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. John 1:17
Jesus held a more conservative view on things than even the religious leaders of the day, go read the Sermon on the Mount. And yet people who were nothing like Jesus liked Jesus. And Jesus liked people who were nothing like him. If he could live out both grace and truth, so can we. If he lived out both grace and truth, so must we.