One encouraging and hopeful conclusion we can draw from all of this is that pride is not a problem for God. God does not struggle with the character flaw of a swelled head. God’s sense of self-worth is so finely balanced and His perspective is so true in its outward looking viewpoint that He can rise above the destructive elements of pride. For God, puffed-up pride is an impediment…an unproductive distraction…that stands in the way of continuously active, creative thought.
But in our current fallen condition, swelled-headed pride is one of our biggest enemies. We think we know best. We want to do things our way. The central theme in the biblical narrative stories of faith is that God displaces our way with His way.
No one likes the cross. Jesus did not enjoy the experience of the crucifixion. But through the cross of Christ both the Father and the Son are glorified. Self-sacrificing love is devoid of the negative aspects of pride such as described in 1 Cor. 13:4-5: ”love…vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up…seeketh not her own.” God displacing our way with His way through the totally unconventional vehicle of a God-composed adventure of faith fundamentally cuts across the grain of our thinking that we know best.
When our cross gets heaviest, we are troubled. We get upset and complain to God. We want explanations and answers. A grain of wheat dying to produce much fruit is not a part of our presumed expectation for worldly conventional normalcy. It takes prayer, patience, and hope on our part for God to lovingly show us through the playing-out of life events what still needs to be fixed in our lives in order to bring forth much fruit.
Only the living God knows how to do the cross properly. The cross in our lives has pinpoint accuracy. For Jesus, the way of the cross eventually actualizes into a Roman cross on Calvary Hill. Our crosses are something unique and individually tailored to each of us. If the cross and the resurrection glorified Jesus and the Father (Jn. 13:31), our cross and resurrection as godly transformed new people in Christ will glorify both ourselves and God.
As Spirit-born Christians, if we are following Jesus down the road toward Calvary…if we are walking in the Spirit and God is on our side…there is nothing in all of existence that can defeat us no matter how daunting are the outward circumstances or the negative appearances of temporary failure. This is the liberating broadness of the reality of a journey of faith that is one of the priceless things Jesus purchased for us through the cross and the resurrection (Rom. 8:31).
One of the great ironies in all of human experience is that the way of the cross actually opens up a pathway to a breadth and a quality of freedom that is completely unknown to worldly conventional thinking (1 Cor. 1:18). This is what we see in all of the narrative stories of faith in the Bible.
By an incredible show of courage, character, and grit, God earns our respect and gratitude by personally stepping into this broken world and participating alongside us, through a divinely composed, daring and risk-filled strategy that against all worldly conventional odds procures for us an honorable exit out of the bondage to sin. Like the serpent on a pole raised up in the Exodus wilderness (Num. 21:8-9), Jesus Christ amazingly became a “curse on a tree” for us that we might be delivered from the curse of sin. If we as Spirit-born Christians are likewise to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:29), then some portion of this reality must be a part of the danger zone of picking up our own cross and following after Jesus down the road toward Calvary Hill.
The question God asks each of us as we enter into the upcoming last days is: “will you go out on the edge for Me and for the sake of the gospel, through a daring, challenging, and risk-filled life-script I have individually composed just for you? If I give you My Spirit and the grace you will need, will you allow Me to live My plans through you to fulfill your highest purpose and to be a blessing to others?” Isn’t this what is portrayed in the narrative stories of faith in the Bible (Rom. 4:18-25)…sacrificing some portion of conventional normalcy for the sake of a cause larger than ourselves, even when this results in a misunderstood and worldly unpopular journey of faith following God?