Thursdays with Murray [Humility, week 4]

Andrew Murray 2As I continue interacting with Andrew Murray’s writings over the next number of weeks, I am currently spending time first with his short book Humility, which a friend shared with my recently.

After looking at how humility is the secret of our salvation and the way in which Jesus models humility in his life, Murray focuses on Jesus’ explicit teaching on humility in the fourth chapter of the book.

Murray comments briefly on a series of verses on meekness and humility from Jesus before drawing summary comments later. I found it helpful simply to read those verses one after another:

  • “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven….Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:3, 5)
  • “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:29)
  • “An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest. Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. Then he said to them, ‘Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.'” (Luke 9:46-48)
  • “Jesus called them together and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.'” (Matthew 20:25-28)
  • “The greatest among you will be your servant.” (Matthew 23:11)
  • “For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 14:11)
  • “For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 18:14)
  • “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.” (John 13:14)
  • “But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves.” (Luke 22:26)

Let me ask you a question: which of these verses stands out to you most and why?

For me, I was once again hit between the eyes by the way Jesus models servanthood in the upper room with His disciples by washing their feet. I have read this passage many times throughout my life, but it never ceases to amaze me. Jesus is not taking the way of upward mobility in his ministry, but the way of selfless service. Certainly the crucifixion shows this to us, but it is even more striking here to me in this tender, personal moment that He celebrates with His disciples. May God make me more like this!

Murray reflects on this reality at the end of the chapter in a passage that is so striking that I want to simply include the whole paragraph here:

Brethren, here is the path to the higher life. Down, lower down! This was what Jesus ever said to the disciples who were thinking of being great in the kingdom, and of sitting on His right hand and His left. Seek not, ask not for exaltation; that is God’s work. Look to it that you abase and humble yourselves, and take no place before God or man but that of servant; that is your work; let that be your one purpose and prayer. God is faithful. Just as water ever seeks and fills the lowest place, so the moment God finds the creature abased and empty, His glory and power flow in to exalt and to bless. He that humbleth himself – that must be our one care – shall be exalted; that is God’s care; by His mighty power and in His great love He will do it.

Men sometimes speak as if humility and meekness would rob us of what is noble and bold and manlike. Oh that all would believe that this is the nobility of the kingdom of heaven, that this is the royal spirit that the King of heaven displayed, that this is Godlike, to humble oneself, to become the servant of all! This is the path to the gladness and the glory of Christ’s presence ever in us, His power ever resting on us.

Alan Jacobs: a Christian intellectual for the internet age

headshot.pngI was thrilled to read a feature online on Alan Jacobs, one of my favorite professors during my studies at Wheaton College, and also one of the few contemporary authors who I read nearly everything they write.

While studying English literature as undergrads, my wife, Kelly, and I (as of then only dating) traveled to Oxford as part of a study program with two of our professors from Wheaton. One of those was Wayne Martindale and the other was Alan Jacobs. We studied hard, visited historic literary sites around England, played a lot of ultimate frisbee (Alan dubbed “Dr. J” as part of the frisbee teams), and enjoyed building relationships with our professors and their families. Alan taught my senior seminar and it was simultaneously probably the hardest and most enjoyable class I ever took. He made me think deeply and want to think deeply about everything we read, even if I didn’t at first care about it or understand it. Just a short time later, after graduating, I later worked with Teri, Alan’s wife, at World Relief, but that is another story.

Alan writes with some of the deepest perception I have encountered about contemporary culture, technology, literature, and faith. While I thoroughly enjoy his collections of essays, such as Wayfaring and A Visit to Vanity Fair, his recent book-length works have made the most lasting impact upon me.

How to ThinkHis literary biography of the Book of Common Prayer is outstanding, both historically and theologically.  His book The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction is probing, thoughtful and delightful at the same. And his most recent book, How to Think, should be, in my opinion, required reading for…well, everyone.

Take a moment to read the feature on this remarkable man here.

Then read some of his booksblogtechnology blog, or features at The Atlantic, First Things, or The New Atlantis.

Image and Idolatry

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A quick search online reveals that a lot of us have image problems. Not only do you and I have image problems, but it seems like every category of person, career, human activity, and individual has an image problem.

The Satanic Inversion of the Image of God

As I mentioned in my message this past weekend, “I am More than My Image,” the deepest root of our image problem is the Satanic inversion of how God created us in His image. In Genesis 3:1-7, we can see three aspects of this inversion within the dialogue between the serpent and Eve:

  1. Satan questions the truth of God (“Did God really say?…”) – something which humans in original innocence took for granted as true and good
  2. Satan questions the motivation or rationale of God’s truth (“You will not certainly die…for God knows…”) – something which humans in original innocence took as in their best interest
  3. Satan questions the human relationship with God (“And their eyes were opened”) – the original harmony (shalom) or relationship is no disrupted

The opening of eyes gives more than humanity bargained for as this taints the image of God within humanity. That image is still there – an amazingly good reflection of God in our lives – but it is fogged over and cracked like a damaged mirror.

Human Dissonance about Image and God’s Guidelines

As we look at the story of the Bible after Genesis 3 we see that humanity tends toward putting the self at the center. Not only that, but we construct the world in a way that lifts up images outside of us and inside of us that are contrary to God and His ways. This is a direct reflection of the dissonance we experience as a result of the Satanic inversion of the image of God in Genesis 3. Read More »

I Am More Than My Image

With our current series at Eastbrook Church, “Who Am I?”, we are exploring biblical answers to questions about finding our identity in God.

This past weekend, in my message “I Am More Than My Image,” I spoke to the ways in which we are  tempted to live according to false images of ourselves instead of living into the image of God and the restoration of that in Jesus Christ.

You can view the message video and sermon outline below. You can follow the entire series at our web-site, through the Eastbrook app, or through our audio podcast.

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