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October 19th, 2009

 

           “The humble church.”  What would that look like?  

Last week we started here:  “The humble church submits to God.  It responds to God’s self-revelation in creation, in the Bible, and in Jesus Christ.

Lesson 2:  The humble church keeps perspective about its successes.

Let me share a story I’ve told before, but it fits here.  It is a story I’m not proud of.

When I was senior at Columbia Bible in 1977-78, we used to have chapel speakers tell us they had been all over the world, and there was no place like CBC for its faithfulness to God and the Bible.

I remember thinking, “I live in the most enlightened generation that’s ever lived, and attend the most faithful school.  And I’m one of the student leaders.  I wonder what that makes me?”

I love CBC (now Columbia International University).  It is a great place, and it gave Linda and me a wonderful foundation for life and ministry.  Its distinctive principles still guide me.  We went back there for seminary in the mid-80s, and our daughter, Cara, is a grad student there now.

But CBC was not then, nor is it now, the center of God’s truth.  Every institution and every generation, like every individual, is a mix of insights and blind spots.

Humble churches know that.  Churches, particularly those that are successful numerically, begin to think, “If every church were like ours….” (you fill in the blank).

It’s easy to look back through history and see blind spots in every generation.  It’s easy to look at other churches and denominations and see problems they may not be able to see.  Humble churches are very aware they are not heaven on earth.

The humble church celebrates God’s grace reflected in its progress, but is open to internal and external criticism.  It takes for granted that it has weaknesses more visible from the outside than the inside.  It expects to grow and learn.

The humble church is self-consciously a work in process.

 

 

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