Sometimes I read the Bible and I think, “How is that even possible?!?”
I find myself in the middle of a conversation with God and I actually think I have the right to question His thought process. Sometimes it only takes Him a line to set a standard so high that it sounds ridiculous. Take this one from Philippians for example:
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” - Philippians 2:3 ESV
Do nothing, nothing from a position of ambition or conceit: “Sure God, that sounds easy enough.” When you put it in the context of our culture, it only increases the demand on our already fallen nature. North America thrives on self-centredness. It gets tied up in a bow and presented to us as a never-ending meal of flashing lights. If you want to be someone, be someone successful, be someone great.
Did you know?
“A majority of American adults across age group, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status and political ideology expresses concern about the nation’s moral condition—eight in 10 overall (80%). The proportion is closer to nine in 10 among Elders (89%) and Boomers (87%), while about three-quarters of Gen-Xers (75%) and Millennials (74%) report concern. Similarly, practicing Christians (90%) are more likely than adults of no faith (67%) or those who identify with a religious faith other than Christianity (72%) to say they are concerned about the moral condition of the nation. Though measurable differences exist between population segments, moral concern is widespread across the demographic board.”
Barna Group, The End of Absolutes: America’s New Moral Code, 2016
Almost everyone is aware of the problem. But then, almost everyone must be part of it. Nations built by ambitious people have arrived at a conceited conclusion. Ambition: That’s all about getting things done. It’s about the desire, not the process. It’s the want for success behind our actions. So, God is essentially saying your goals and your motivations are wrong. Conceit: That’s pride taken to the extreme. Pride is dangerous in small doses, but if you let her out of her cage she’s a real monster. And again God is saying, if we become absorbed with our own achievements, that feeling too, is ultimately wrong.
Like I was saying before, God doesn’t always make things easy. If our nature has made us this way, and if our culture has ingrained these values in us, how do we abandon ambition and conceit? How do we put everyone else first? He sets the bar high, but luckily, He doesn’t expect us to jump over on our own. Paul, in his letter to the people of Philippi, makes it clear:
“...for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” - Philippians 2:13
God enables us to live in a way that is different from the world around us. He enables us to live in a way that is different from even our own natural tendencies. It’s miraculous. It’s incredible. In Capitalism, everyone wants to be first. In liberalism, everyone wants to be equal. But, in Christianity, everyone wants to be last. We want to emulate our father and serve absolutely everyone else.