The Scandal of Grace: Creating a Culture of Humility

On November 30, 2013, college football rivals Alabama and Auburn were playing each other in the annual Iron Bowl. This game stands out in my memory more than any other because of the dramatic plot twist at the end of the game. To save many details, heavily favored Alabama decided to kick a long field goal late in the 4th quarter to try and break a 28-28 tie with Auburn and win the game.

However, not only was the field goal short but miraculously, an Auburn player caught the ball and ran for a 103-yard touchdown as time expired. It was an astronomical upset in one of the most incredulous ways I have ever seen a football game end. Myself, like many Alabama fans, responded with a pose that sportscasters infamously named “The Surrender Cobra.” This is a pose in which fans look upon the outcome of a game in utter disbelief, and cannot fathom how the events could have possibly occurred.

More than any sports event, this passage of Scripture should leave us in “The Surrender Cobra” position. Our hands on our heads, our mouths open, left in utter disbelief.

5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. - Philippians 2:5-11

Consider this scene: The same God of the universe who created everything and who everything was created for emptied himself of his perfect power to become like his creation, so that he could save his creation from the cancer of sin that they chose in favor of relationship with him -- and he would do this by dying the death his creation deserved so that hell-bound rebels and traitors could become sons and daughters.

Are you kidding me? That story is scandalous. It is undeserved. It is foolish.

Yes, and it is the scandalous gospel of grace that brings salvation to all who believe. It is our story that we gather around and celebrate, it is our rallying cry, it is our anthem.

In our desire as a leadership team to create and cultivate a culture of humility at Providence North Community Church, the answer of how to do this is simple: marvel at the humility put on display by the Savior, Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 3:18 puts it this way:

“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”

Simply put, the way we change is by beholding the glory of the Lord. To behold literally means to see or observe. The life of Jesus Christ and the gospel that he brings to use is so powerful, all we have to do is behold it, marvel at it, see it for how scandalous and beautiful it is and we will be changed. Isn’t that amazing, and even a bit counterintuitive? If we want to foster a culture of humility, we need to be a church that consistently thinks on the gospel, sings the gospel, reads the gospel, lives the gospel and loves the gospel. We need to watch Jesus and see how humility is lived. The King who counted our needs more important than his own calls us to give our lives away to others in the same manner.

May we be a church looks at Philippians 2:5-11 and responds like Pauls call in Philippians 2:3-4:

3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests but also to the interests of others.

Let us behold Jesus’s humility, and may our natural response be to try and intimate the King we follow, serve, and love.