THE VICTORIOUS DISCIPLE
In our struggle to be a disciple of Jesus, one of the most scary passages in the entire Bible is this: “Let this mind be in you that was also in Christ Jesus” (Ph 2:5). The Holy Spirit then proceeds to explain what this “mind” was that was in Christ Jesus. He was before the incarnation “equal with God” (Ph 2:6). But “He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Ph 2:8). It is the extremity of His will to do the will of the Father that amazes us. It was so extreme that, as God incarnate, He was willing to humiliate Himself on our behalf. If we would be His disciples, therefore, it seems that He has placed the “humility bar” so high that we could never achieve what He would expect of us. And this is where there is good news. “For by grace you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Ep 2:8). If one who is seeking to have the mind of Christ within, does not understand the grace of God that was poured out from the cross, then he will live in endless anxiety concerning his salvation. When it comes to having the mind of Christ, we must have a strong appreciation for the grace of God.
The greatest struggle of the disciple is humility, for such a character seems to work against our innate desire to be somebody and to do things our way. We see such among so many religious leaders throughout the religious world today. Every effort seems to be used to set one’s self apart to be someone who is somewhat. Fine suits are purchased. Gold chains are worn. Polished new shoes are paraded before the people. Collars are turned around and robes put on. The religious world is cluttered with pompous preachers, priests and popes who would parade themselves over and apart from the people. Many have forgotten that the bigger one makes himself before the people, the less God can use him as a servant of the people. David Livingstone once wrote, “God had an only son, and He was a missionary and a physician. A poor, poor imitation of Him I am, or wish to be.” It is the spirit of both the missionary and the physician to focus on others. There are few missionaries or physicians who come from the class of pompous preachers who masquerade themselves as servants of the people. We have too many “boardroom leaders” among us whose fingers suffer from paper cuts by handing out dictates from behind boardroom doors. If one seeks to be the director of slaves, then he must always stay humble by remembering that little men who try to wear big hats are always blinded.
We must not forget that the blessings for humble character development are not placed on shelves one above another, and the greater we think we are, the more we think we can reach. On the contrary, the blessings are on descending shelves one below another. And the lower we get the more blessings we can access. There are no smooth-handed leaders among the disciples. All our leaders’ hands have callouses. We must not make the mistake of thinking that humility comes by thinking low of ourselves. Humility comes by being honest with ourselves, and thus thinking truthfully about who we are. The humble disciples among us are discovered in the fields of toil, not in boardrooms.
We would not be as the man who was given the badge for being the most humble man in the world, and then having it taken away from him when he wore it. We would seek to allow God to “put us in our place.” He did such with His only Son when He placed Him on a cross. This is what He also did with Israel when they exalted themselves to the point that they left Him. Isaiah spoke of the humiliation that they would experience in captivity. But once they were humbled, he spoke of their exaltation. God promised,
I dwell in the high and holy place with him also who is of a contrite and humble spirit in order to revive the spirit of the humble and to revive the heart of the contrite ones (Is 57:15).
Our desire to take the initiative on the road to humility is inspired by what both James and Peter wrote concerning the proud. James warned the proud, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (Js 4:6). And then Peter defines the quest of every disciple who would seek to have the “mind of Christ”:
… all of you be submissive to one another and be clothed with humility, for God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble. Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God so that He may exalt you at the proper time … (1 Pt 5:5,6).
What Peter seems to be saying is that the road to the grace of God is named “Humility Street.” No proud person can access the grace of God if he seeks to go down “Pride Street.” The reason the proud can never access grace, is that grace can be accepted only by those who know they can never make it on their own. When we seek to exalt ourselves, we cannot reach the grace of God. And without the grace of God we cannot dwell with Him in eternity, for only those of a contrite spirit will be there with the One who did not count Himself be equal with God a thing to maintain, but He humbled Himself even to the point of finding His predestined place on the cross for our benefit. It was on that old rugged cross where victory was found. Jesus became victorious over death in order to lead His disciples to be victorious over life. And thus, “this is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith” (1 Jn 5:4).