For the Bride: Missing Square One

The precursor to schism is the loss of humility.  The starting point for our debates has too often been to look at those with whom we disagree and say, “You are wrong.”  And, of course it gets worse.  Once we divide over right/wrong, it is a short journey to saying “you are sinful, you are deceived, you are not Christian,” etc.

But a look at Scripture and Tradition puts the starting point at “I”–not “You.”  I am sinful, I could be wrong, I need help in finding the difference between my way and God’s way, etc.  I cannot be Christian in isolation–whether actually or ideologically.

The failure to follow the saints of the ages in this confessional spirit results in the loss of humility, And hard as it is to accept, this is nothing other than the triumph of egotism.  The thing the ego resists most is beginning with “I.”  Adam and Eve resisted it in Eden, so they blamed the snake and each other.  Peter resisted it in Jesus’ conversation with him on the seashore, changing the subject to another disciple by asking, “What about him?”

The ego creates a circus of “you’s” and then spends an inordinate amount of time, effort, and money demonstrating how “I” am superior to “you.”  But the old Gospel hymn calls out all attempts to pass the buck: “It’s me, O Lord, standing in the need of prayer.  Not my brother, not my sister, but me O Lord, standing in the need of prayer.”

By missing square one, we begin the Christian walk at the wrong place, and when the vantage point is skewed, most everything else will be skewed somewhere down the line.  Jesus starts with “me” not “you,” telling me in no uncertain terms to remove the log in my eye before I try to get the speck out of someone else’s eye.  This is what humility does, and only the clear-eyed can see what God wants us to see.

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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