Friday, 5 February 2010

Talking with Father about pride and dignity... and Your love

30 January 2010

“We are one in the Spirit, We are one in the Lord…
And we pray that all unity may one day be restored,
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love….

We will walk with each other, We will walk hand in hand…
And together we’ll spread the news that God is in our land…

We will work with each other, We will work side by side….
And we’ll guard each man’s dignity and save each man’s pride…

All praise to the Father, from Whom all things come,
And all praise to Christ Jesus, His only Son,
All all praise to the Spirit who makes us one,
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love,
Yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.”
(Carolyn Arends – lyrics)

That line about “save each man’s pride” … I’ve often wondered about that – “pride” being probably the basic sin, the sin of “self,” of desire to be independent, separate from, equal to – even above – You! I suppose the song write meant it to be a part of the idea of “guarding each man’s dignity” which of course can only truly happen when we love others with Your love, and they enter into Your love themselves, and we are “one in the bonds of love.” It’s about loving others the way You love us – unconditionally! Where nothing they can do – or not do – makes any difference to Your love (and to Your love to others through us). Where we see others as You see them – Your precious, beloved children, bought, restored, forgiven, because of the sacrificial shed blood of Jesus, Your only begotten Son!

Then, all their “dignity and pride” is found in their relationship to You, their position as Your children – children of the Almighty God of the Universe, of all that is! No more is in grounded in their own “self-worth” or “self-esteem” which is always bound to fail. Actually, we can’t “guard” or “save” other’s dignity and pride at all, ourselves, though as we love them unconditionally with Your love, their eyes may be lifted from their woundedness, their sense of self-defeat, their battered self-esteem and self-worth, long enough that in us they might catch a glimpse of You, of Your love and Your glory and Your majesty – and then they might choose to come into Your arms that You spread wide open on the cross – and in You, in Your love, they will find true dignity, and yes, pride… because then their lives will be about You, no longer about themselves (and they will be saved from their self-pride!).

But I guess it is also true, that as we treat others with the dignity which we ourselves have received in You, even before they come to know You, they will get a taste of what true dignity feels like… and that will give them a longing for more… for You! I think that for many people, that “taste of dignity” is necessary, for their “own” sense of dignity has been so shattered by an unkind, unsympathetic, each-man-for-himself world, that they have fallen into hopelessness and self-loathing so deep that they have given up. And then when a taste of dignity – from those who have experienced Your love and are passing it on to others – comes along, the hope arises in them and they lift up their eyes to find the Source of love and life – and the Source of true dignity and true pride, untainted by the evil of self-seeking and self-serving!

By the way, sadly, ironically, we far too often don’t even love, and treat with dignity, those who are our brothers and sisters in Your family, Your church, Your body, Your kingdom. It seems sometimes like we are far more likely to treat with dignity our co-workers, our employers, those we meet in the marketplace, etc – even treat with a kind of self-righteous dignity those whom we may actually “despise” as the “bum on the street corner”! - while we show so little dignity, so little true love, to those right in the body of Christ.

I wonder, do we think that since they’re already “saved,” it doesn’t matter? Perhaps… but I fear that it is even more likely that too often the “dignity” we (as individuals, yes, but sometimes as whole “churches” too) afford to others around us in the world may actually be more self-seeking, as we ourselves seek to be liked, appreciated, approved, even bowed-before… while the way we often treat fellow-believers is even worse: with unkindness, despising, even just ignoring them – and again it comes down to the same thing – just us wanting to be “number one” at the expense of others. The old number one sin of pride and self-esteem above God and others, keeps trying to raise its ugly head. And when the world looks down at Christians and despises us, it is because we “proclaim” a God of love – and yet what they see… well, maybe the lyrics of reality are different, for example:

They’ll know we are Christians by our lack of love…
Our lack of unity…
Our failure to treat each other with dignity….
Our failure to truly walk and work together…
And our overwhelming, self-righteous, actually sometimes more worldly than the world’s, attitudes and actions that so often scream out “pride!”

Oh dear.

(But thank You for showing me that..) (Please change me) (Please conquer and destroy MY PRIDE! Please replace it with pride in You alone.) (And yes, maybe we do need to change that line in the song about “saving man’s pride”??? Papa??? New lyics??)


Anonymous said...

Amen! I've always cringed at that verse, too. I thought about changing "save" to "tame," but that's really the Holy Spirit's job. Mabye we can come up with something. :) --Andy.

Norma Hill - aka penandpapermama said...

Go for it, Andy! I'll try to think of one, too :-)