“Cool wears off. Useful never does.” – quote from the book “Rework”
“The ears of our generation have been made so delicate by the senseless multitude of flatterers that, as soon as we perceive that anything of ours is not approved of, we cry out that we are being bitterly assailed; and when we can repel the truth by no other pretence, we escape by attributing bitterness, impatience, intemperance, to our adversaries.” – Martin Luther, “Concerning Christian Liberty”
The church world is ripe with people who have very thin skin. Ironically most of these people tend to be what I’d call “Bullies in Sheep’s Clothing”.
You know the type. They play games with others in an attempt to manipulate a situation. They want to keep everything secretive in order to avoid having to defend their actions publicly. Logic and reason are abandoned in favor of emotional ploys. Playing one person against another or relying on a system’s rules in order to achieve their ends. With bullies in sheep’s clothing the problem is that if you ever confront them in a public venue they cry foul. They accuse you of being impolite or even worse in Christian circles “angry”.
The quote above written by Martin Luther was not written in 2010 but rather 1520. Nearly 500 years ago Luther saw the problem of thin skin among those within a religious power structure. In order to isolate a person in a controlled religous environment the goal is to avoid the merit of the argument by highlighting things like tone, word choice and facial expression. While certainly none of us should spend a lot of our time upset (especially those of us who are blessed to have received the grace of God in Christ) but there are times when anger is more of a righteous indignation.
Getting upset isn’t a sin. There are always motives behind the emotion.
When a reasonable person gets upset, direct, and yes angry it may not be a sign that that person is somehow off the deep end as much as that person has now been pushed to the point where passive observance is no longer an option. This is most true in a case when a person is angry in protection of those who have less of a voice, less of an understand and less of a way to directly affect change.
If you come across a bully in sheep’s clothing you are going to have two options: stand up to the bully and affect change to protect those who are being damaged by the bullies arrogance or 2. Ignore the bully and consider yourself an accomplice to the damage he/she inflicts on the lives of others. I’ve decided in life that bullies in sheep’s clothing will be confronted as often as I see them and feel convicted to protect the innocent.
There is no true humility before one is presented with the Gospel. Prior to that our best humility is still based in our own opinion or effort. So even the best humility apart from a full acknowledgement of sin and impending death (separation from God), there is nothing but pride.
I’m quite certain that Saul -like you and I- was not truly humble until he realized the magnitude of his sin and that the only remedy to be found was in Jesus and not himself. Remember, Paul would later recollect much of this in Philippians 3. He compares and contrasts how before Christ all of his confidence was in the flesh. After meeting Christ he considers all previous things ‘loss’ and ‘garbage’.
True humility can only be found in the Gospel, the acknowledgement that we -on our best day in the flesh- are at best pious and at worst ignorant and damned.
Humility tosses out all of that strenuous and meaningless work in favor of relaxation in the truth that the cross doesn’t demand our labor; but rather our faith, trust and dependance on Jesus to be sufficient.
He is enough, He is everything and when we can put down our religious resume and acknowledge that we find humility, we find freedom and we find Christ.