Lord, for ever at thy side
let my place and portion be,
strip me of the robe of pride,
clothe me with humility.
When I come before thy Word,
quiet my anxiety;
teach me thou alone art Lord,
let my heart find rest in thee.
What thy Spirit doth reveal,
that may I in faith receive;
though my doubts I sorely feel,
thy sure promise I believe.
Israel, now and evermore
in the Lord Almighty trust;
him, in all his ways, adore,
wise and wonderful and just.
Words: Stanzas 1 & 4 – James Montgomery, 1819; stanzas 2 & 3, Charles P. Price (b. 1920)
Music: SONG 13, melody and bass Orlando Gibbons (1583-1625)
In the last few weeks, there have been news stories about churches who are trying to lure people into their fold by offering guns to those who attend retreats or worship services. When I first heard of this, I was shocked. It is utterly shocking at how blatantly against the example of Jesus such a gesture is. Jesus embodied non-violence. Jesus embodied turning the other cheek…it got him killed. Jesus embodied peace. The fact that a church would turn the goal of increasing membership, or in their eyes “winning souls for Christ,” no doubt, turns the message of Christ upside down and spits in the face of the example of Christ’s life.
I am a Christian who believes that a life of humility, service, and sacrifice is what God calls us to in Jesus Christ. Not a life of superiority, aggression, and paranoia. That is what these churches are perpetuating…a life of “shut your mouth and defend yourself” instead of a life of “turn the other cheek, listen, and speak.”
May the God of love in Jesus Christ with the Holy Spirit guide us into all truth. Lord, have mercy!
Here is one such article about this on Sojourners.net.
“The Deserter” by Boardman Robinson (1916)
Thus says the high and lofty one
who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
Shout out, do not hold back!
Lift up your voice like a trumpet!
Announce to my people their rebellion,
to the house of Jacob their sins.
Yet day after day they seek me
and delight to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that practiced righteousness
and did not forsake the ordinance of their God;
they ask of me righteous judgments,
they delight to draw near to God.
“Why do we fast, but you do not see?
Why humble ourselves, but you do not notice?”
Look, you serve your own interest on your fast day,
and oppress all your workers.
Look, you fast only to quarrel and to fight
and to strike with a wicked fist.
Such fasting as you do today
will not make your voice heard on high.
Is such the fast that I choose,
a day to humble oneself?
Is it to bow down the head like a bulrush,
and to lie in sackcloth and ashes?
Will you call this a fast,
a day acceptable to the LORD?
Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of injustice,
to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them,
and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up quickly;
your vindicator shall go before you,
the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer;
you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am.
If you remove the yoke from among you,
the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil,
if you offer your food to the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the afflicted,
then your light shall rise in the darkness
and your gloom be like the noonday.
The LORD will guide you continually,
and satisfy your needs in parched places,
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters never fail.
Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
the restorer of streets to live in.
Continue reading here.
Blest be the King whose coming is in the name of God!
For him let doors be opened, no hearts against him barred!
Not robed in royal splendour, in power and pomp comes he:
but clad as are the poorest – such his humility.
– Stanza 1 from Blest be the King, by Frederico J. Pagura (b. 1923)
Every aspect of Christ’s life…from the way he entered our world, to the way he lived and traveled, to the way he was condemned to death and died…was poor. Christ entered the world to migrant parents, born in a manger with no pillow for his head, as the hymn goes. He lived his life among fishermen, some of the poorest in society. He traveled on foot, and entered the city of Jerusalem on a donkey. He was arrested and condemned to death, and died alongside criminals outside the city limits, a form of humiliation. And yet we acclaim Christ as our eternal King, who reigns in glory with God. Our King is one of humility. I’m sure we all know Christians who are arrogant in their evangelizing; who are pompous in their knowledge of Scripture; or who are boastful in their salvation or understanding of God. But that is not what Christ calls us to be. Christ calls us to live as compassionate, humble, and meek servants. We worship the one who served others, who washed their feet, who lived their lives in poverty. May that message be in our hearts always, and may we become what Christ calls us to be…servants living our lives in humility and service.