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Season 4 - Week 3

“Cross-shaped Humility”


Last sunday I invited young people in my younger youth group to join me in auditing their lives. We thought it would be interesting / revealing to add up the number of hours each week, that we watch youtube, use social media, eat, sleep, exercise and play games online.

Unsurprisingly, all of us were pretty low on sleep hours and pretty high on social media hours. It seems that what we loose in napping, we make up for in tweeting, posting, sharing and commenting!

So we decided to set ourselves personal challenges like, ‘Don’t take our phones to bed’ and ‘Eat at the table with other people, not in our bedrooms.’ All with the intent of trying to remind ourselves that the world doesn’t revolve around us. But as great as these ideas are (and I was amazed at how many of the teenagers tried their best to stick to their boundaries) in the end, we all discovered it’s just so much easier to be self-involved than to be self-denying. And isn’t that the heart of humility?

Probably the most famous quote about humility is this, ‘True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.’ C.S Lewis

Thinking of yourself less.

How is this possible? In an age of wall to wall digital communication that’s turning us into a society of self-obsessed narcissists, can I really be free from thinking only about me? Free enough to do what love for another person requires, even if I lose twitter followers, reputation, possessions, everything?

Yes, because of Jesus. We may be familiar with the miracle-working Christ; the engaging-teacher, compassionate-friend and provocative-agitator we see in the Gospels. But how often are we at risk of losing sight of Jesus the silent-sacrifice who could have defended himself, but didn’t.

Luke tells the unlikely story of Jesus-follower, Philip, being drawn by the Spirit onto a remote road in the Judean hills to intercept an Ethiopian traveller, wrestling with the suffering saviour he’s reading about in an ancient book. Philip gets to be the one to introduce him to a King who doesn’t care who applauds him. Who suffers the indignation and disgrace of a Roman execution. Who’s thirty-three years on earth culminate on a criminal’s cross.

Read Acts 8:30-34

Stop for a moment, and imagine this is the first time you’ve heard about the Lord of all creation, emptying himself out, sacrificing status, in the pursuit of the creation he loves.What does that feel like? This is humility at it’s purest and fiercest. This is God as we’ve never understood before. This is the Divine Human, giving himself away in complete surrender to bear the pain of the world he loves.

But it doesn’t end there, Christ’s humility calls a response out of us. And it’s to simply empty ourselves out for others in the way Christ did for us.

Simple, but oh so costly.

Christ’s cross-shaped humility teaches us that love always costs. Choosing the way of Jesus, means that status-seeking and self-preoccupation isn’t an option an longer. Instead of life-denying, we find ourselves on the path to experiencing life in all it’s fullness.

Acts 8:30-34

‘So when Philip ran toward the chariot, he heard the man reading from Isaiah the prophet. Philip asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?”

He answered, “How can I understand unless someone explains it to me?” Then he invited Philip to climb in and sit with him. The portion of Scripture he was reading was this:

“He was like a sheep being led to be killed.
He was quiet, as a lamb is quiet while its wool is being cut; he never opened his mouth.
He was shamed and was treated unfairly.
He died without children to continue his family.
 His life on earth has ended.” Isaiah 53:7–8

The officer said to Philip, “Please tell me, who is the prophet talking about—himself or someone else?” Philip began to speak, and starting with this same Scripture, he told the man the Good News about Jesus.

This week's author

Staffpics-rachel-gardner

Rachel Gardner

Director of Partnerships

Questions & Challenges

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Imagine hearing the story of Jesus for the first time

Try to read and reflect on the amazing news of Jesus – as explained by Philip here in Acts 8 – as if you were hearing and believing it for the first time in your life. What would your response be? How might your life change as a result? Now ask yourself – is there a discrepancy between the answer, and how you actually live your life today?

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Think about your use of social media

How healthy is it? How easily could you give up parts or all or your online life? As Rachel says, it’s easy to become self-involved, but much more difficult to embrace self-denial. Could you fast from part of your social media world this week?
Think about your use of social media
How healthy is it? How easily could you give up parts or all or your online life? As Rachel says, it’s easy to become self-involved, but much more difficult to embrace self-denial. Could you fast from part of your social media world this week?

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Almighty and everliving God,
in your tender love for the human race
you sent your Son our Savior Jesus Christ
to take upon him our nature,
and to suffer death upon the cross,
giving us the example of his great humility:
Mercifully grant that we may walk in the way of his suffering,
and also share in his resurrection;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Other Weeks

Week 1

MARK SCANDRETTE

PUBLISHED: 6 JUN, 2017

Week 2

JAMIE CUTTERIDGE

PUBLISHED: 13 JUN, 2017

Week 5

JAMIE CUTTERIDGE

PUBLISHED: 27 JUN, 2017

Week 6

JENNY BAKER

PUBLISHED: 4 JUL, 2017

Week 4

RACHEL GARDNER

PUBLISHED: 11 JUL, 2017

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