Thursday, July 1, 2010

Pride and Prejudice

This week’s scriptures are 2 Kings 5:1-14, Luke 10:1-11, 16-20 and Galatians 6:1-6.

In these passages, I was struck by the acts of pride and the warnings against pride. In 2 Kings, Naaman gets all full of himself when Elisha doesn’t come out to greet and heal him. Instead Elisha sends instructions via messenger to wash in the River Jordan seven times. Naaman goes off on a rant and has to be reined in by his servants. They point out to him that the task (washing seven times in the river) is so easy that he would be remiss not to try it. Because they are only servants, they can not be forceful in pointing out Naaman’s prideful reaction, but they do get him to reconsider. And they are right—it works. If Naaman’s pride carried the day, he would have gone away uncured. Instead he is cured and accepts God as the only God.

In the Luke passage, the seventy go out in the name of Jesus to heal the sick and spread the good news. They “return with joy, saying, ‘Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!’” Like kids they puff out their chests saying “Look what I can do!” But Jesus calms them down, telling them that they have great powers now, but that they should not “rejoice” in this. Rather they should rejoice in the promise of a heavenly welcome. Jesus wants them to do the work of God not because having awesome powers over sprits and demons is so cool, but because it is what you do when you are blessed by God.

Finally, Paul in Galatians 6 warns against thinking too highly of one’s self. A person should not “think they are something” or compare themselves to their neighbors. Instead, each person should look to their own tasks and take pride from a job well done. When helping a person who has sinned, help them gently. Putting yourself above others does not help the sinner to heal or the Church to grow stronger.

It’s interesting how in all of the passages pride was tied up with receiving help or helping others. Its easy to see how pride could get in your way when you are the one who needs help, but how often do we ask ourselves if we are getting a little too prideful about the act of helping others? Now notice how in all of the passages, overcoming pride or moving beyond an initially prideful reaction moves people closer to God. Sometimes it is hard to find God in the midst of our own hang-ups and self-importance. And sometimes we need someone else to point out our assumptions and help us get back on track. What strikes me is that the person who calls us on our behavior isn’t always who we expect it to be. It might be a great or wise leader…or it could be a couple of servants.

Next week, Abby Thornton, the new pastor at Broadneck, will start blogging here. To learn more about Abby visit our web page:
Please join me in welcoming Abby!

With love and hope,

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