In the last month, two of NGYN’s favorite writers/bloggers – Donald Miller and Steven Furtick – have written about humility’s role in the life of a Christian evangelist (links here and here). It’s an important dimension of the character of a believer, but one that gets misunderstood.
When you’re equipped and empowered by the creator of the universe to fight an eternal battle for the sake of all creation – as Christ’s followers are – it’s easy to develop a false sense of superiority. On a simpler, smaller, more mundane scale, it’s tempting to do God’s work for your own benefit rather than for His. I think this explains, for example, why so many Christians grow to be snobs (see the story of the good Samaritan in Luke 10) and get caught up in the desire to serve so much that they get burnt out (see plenty of examples in your home church, I’ll wager).
A fresh look at a brief passage from Jesus’ sermon on the mount offers some guidance on this matter.
In Matthew 5:13-14, Christ tells his followers to be the “salt of the earth” and “light of the world”. I’ve always inferred from this scripture that we’re called to bring life to the world and be shining examples of purity and faithfulness. And we are. But there’s another implication in there, too: that we should not be the focal point of our own actions. Instead, we should draw attention to God and get out of the way.
Think about it: by itself, salt tastes terrible. Light is blinding. But salt enhances the natural flavors of other foods. It serves us best (as we do God) when it subtly spices up a dish, but never draws attention to itself. Just the same, looking directly into a light is painful. When that light is cast outward, though, it illuminates the world while itself remaining invisible to detection.
When you serve, do so for the glory of God, not for your own sake. Be a light: illuminate God’s word for someone in darkness. Be salt: make someone’s day more interesting and enjoyable by using the gifts and unique talents God has given you. Then get out of the way.