Becoming the Least - The Church's Greatest Need
I want to start by saying I mean this title statement as an individual challenge, not necessarily a corporate one. Corporate charges make it too easy to shirk responsibility because we can always remove ourselves from the challenge and put the responsibility, generally, onto the church. The church needs to do this... or it needs to do that... or it needs to become this... or stop doing that... What the church really needs is enough people like Daniel, regardless of their guilt or stake in what's lacking, to make themselves low and take ownership.
We need humility. It's really as simple as that. Humility is a characteristic that makes us look a lot more like Jesus, and as Brian Connolly has voiced a lot lately (I promise you I'm not piggybacking his revelation) it's the evidence of a pure heart. Without it, we're pride-filled, fleshly, worldly shells of who we were created to be. With humility, kingdoms are subdued and lion's mouths are shut. By way of humility, we've seen the world's greatest revivals.
As I recently rounded out a research/writing project that brought me more tears than it brought me interesting facts, "The Summer of Saints," I saw 90+ heroes of the faith who prayed, wrote, taught, and preached not on spiritual office or gifts, but on making oneself low. I like this formula; it's the one Jesus employed.
"The primary need [in the church] isn't X amount of Apostles or Y amount of Prophets, or those with titles, education, status, or giftedness, it's people who are ready to be last."
Humility is a stepping stone to things like giftedness and good fruit. Without it, we forget who it is that sources our... well, giftedness and good fruit. I'm convinced that the foremost need for us, steeped in the comfort and complacency of the American way of doing Christianity, is humility. I believe it far outweighs seminary degrees, gifts, offices, or ministries. Being ready and willing (not just obligated) to be the least and to make oneself low should be atop our resumes. Jesus, en route to a place of honor and glory at Gods' right hand, made himself low, taking on the likeness of sinful flesh, so that we might get this very point (among other things of course). John the Baptist understood this principle when he said "he must increase, but I must decrease." (JOHN 3:30).
The challenge is pure humility is as foreign to the world as anything. If you've listened to or been trained by the world in any way you might have some unlearning to do to fully grasp this concept! The world says "it's all about you," whereas the Bible implies that virtually nothing is about you. The world says to gratify the flesh, seek credit and recognition, and to esteem thought and intellect. The Bible says to crucify the flesh, become the least, and to walk by the Spirit and by faith, not the whims of our minds.
Humility is content with going unnoticed or unheard. It's OK with not getting credit or being first in line. It's fine if it's in the dirt and not at a podium. It's pleased to wait and not immediately have its way. If these traits sound at all familiar, they should - Jesus put them on and carried them around during His ministry.
So, my takeaway to you all basically is this: humility has to be a priority in your life. If it's down on your list, behind some things that are more about you than Him, please do some shifting. Humility is important because of all of the things that I've mentioned, but also because it's what's most needed now. There's something about the ingredient of humility right now that's special. The season calls for it and the church is crying out for it. Apostles and Prophets are great, but humble Apostles and Prophets are better.
One of my favorite Christian commentators, Leonard Ravenhill, said something once that's in this vein, and I'll paraphrase. He said that some will ignore the effect of Romans 6:7 and instead stop at the promise of 6:6. In other words, it's easy and even fun to associate with the freedom that 6:6 brings, but it comes with a price. What does 6:7 propose? You must die to yourself in order to be free. This, of course, is speaking specifically about sin but it certainly applies to humility. The only thing standing in the way of humility for us is ourselves. The only remedy is dying to self and completely crucifying every aspect of our flesh. This is our greatest need.
"For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with,[a] that we should no longer be slaves to sin— 7 because anyone who has died has been set free from sin." ROMANS 6:5-7 NIV
JF D'Orsie - Praise Community Church