True Greatness—Living a humble life
True Greatness is what God desires for us. It is rooted in the person and work of Christ. Saint Paul lays out the first principles of the Gospel—how to have True Greatness.
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you,
which you received,
in which you stand,
and by which you are being saved,
if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
(1 Corinthians 15:1-2 ESV)
To Received; To Stand; To Finish—In Christ Jesus is our past, present, and future hope. Unless this is your starting place, Paul says, “It was for nothing that you believed.”
We should memorize Paul’s starting place, the essentials of Christianity—don’t make it more complicated:
Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures,
that he was buried,
that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.
(1 Corinthians 15:3-4 ESV)
If you need explain the Christian faith, this is it. Christ died for our sins, was buried, and rose again. Paul says this is what was “handed down” from the beginning. Jesus is God’s promised savior—it is there in your Bible. God came to us in human form—Jesus really died and really rose again—it is there in your Bible. It is because Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and rose again that we can be given a new life—the eyewitness statements are there in your Bible.
“Don’t forget it” says Paul. If you stick to these basic facts you will have True Greatness. We can get so caught up in all the churchy stuff, the spiritual life stuff, and the mission stuff that we forget True Greatness begins, continues, and finishes with the mercy of God. Christ died for our sins, was buried, and rose again.
What seemed to get Jesus ticked off more than anything else was not bad behavior, self-centeredness, or indifference. Jesus harshest words were for the “self-righteous.” It was for those with their noses in the air. It was for those of us who whisper, “Did you know what Joe and Sally were doing the other day?” What I’m not saying but thinking is “I’m not slumming around doing those kinds of things.”
When it comes to humility, seeing the reality of who we are, we rarely have a problem of thinking to we’re worse than what we are—except when we’re bragging. “That was nothing. I used to twice as much twice as often.” And I make sure everyone can see the notches carved into my belt.
If you read Scripture or meet them in real life, you know clergy can be the worst. I’ve been in church every Sunday for the last 50 years. I pray twice a day. I read my Bible. I go to Bible Study, visit orphans and widows, on and on. It is no wonder who ended up in Jesus’ story about those who trusted in themselves—Clergy! Dante had no problem finding clergy to fill the Inferno.