Humiliation & Glory

Yesterday we had a visitor, all the way from a church in Edmonton. St. Margaret’s has been a great supporter of Street Hope Saint John since its beginnings. Morgan, who is a Deputy Warden of St. Margaret’s, wanted to get a flavour of our ministry. I found myself wishing that there was something ‘going on’ instead of it being a sleepy warm Thursday. I felt a wish that we were bigger and doing bigger things. A ‘mega’ ministry would be so much easier to show off. Instead of ‘mega’ ministry we practise ‘micro’ ministry. We are intentionally small in spite of the urges toward bigness that is ingrained in our culture, especially in our church world. Years ago as we were starting our church plant “Up Town” I struggled to see it grow. We would reach the exalted number of 32 and then fall back. After a while I realized that because we were a group with lots of issues: mental health, addictions, etc., that our cumulative issues created a ceiling. Folks were not comfortable in bigger groups and self-selected out. I had to come to grips with the concept of smallness which was to be our only viable way to effectiveness. It was an humbling admission.

God does his greatest works through humility. Today I want to look at what I call the “Three Great Humiliations” of God.

  • The first is the incarnation. God the Son humbled himself, as we read in Philippians chapter two and as is evidenced clearly in the gospels of Luke and John. The Word that spoke creation into being “humbled” himself. Because of this humiliation John tells us “We beheld his glory…” God’s glory is revealed through humility.
  • The second great humiliation is the cross. Nailed naked to a cross at a busy intersection, he was mocked and abandoned. The “Triumphal Entry” is a forgotten vestige of the past. It has been lost in this great self-imposed humiliation, unto death. Through this great humiliation comes God’s greatest glory. We sing today “In the Cross of Christ I glory, Towering o’er the wrecks of time.” Again God’s glory comes to us in utter humiliation.
  • The third great humiliation is less noticed. It begins at Pentecost and continues to this day. God the Holy Spirit is poured out on all flesh. The plan of God is now entrusted to people. God deigns to work in and through his Church! Any quick study of Church history or an examination of the contemporary Church will reveal that we often cause shame to be brought to his Name. Yet God glories in his Church, the Bride of Christ! God is glorified by means of humans filled with his Spirit: carrying his message, and acting as agents for his Kingdom.

I fully believe God delights in the ‘micro’. I believe God takes the small things and brings himself great glory.

I resolved my struggle, to demonstrate the big things we do, by introducing her to one of our inner circle S. who has experienced a tremendous life change, which goes unnoticed in the world of the ‘macro.’  Of course I have to struggle with the impulses of my ‘fleshly’ nature for the big thing but in my quiet moments with my Father I feel his smile over the small thing.