Survivor Series: The Pride of Man
One rock song from the late 1960’s I liked was Quicksilver Messenger Service’s cover of Pride of Man originally written by Hamilton Camp. The lyrics were full of apocalyptic phrases and undertones. It begs the question, is there a cure for pride? The song ends with these words:
Oh God, pride of man
Broken in the dust again
The holy mountain be restored
Have mercy on the people
The people, Lord
The Survivor Series concluded this weekend at GateWay with the juxtaposition of last week’s subject of God’s Will and this week’s study on Pride. It is difficult to live out the Will of God and be full one’s self simultaneously. Humility before God is a prerequisite and human pride an obstacle. It is interesting that Proverbs 16:18 states, Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before stumbling. James 4:6 reads, But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, "GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE."
I found it compelling when Pastor Ed quoted the noted and acclaimed writer and Christian apologist, C.S. Lewis,’ regarding pride. Distilling the essence of pride as the exhilaration that comes from not having more or better but having more or being better than someone else is piercingly insightful. Thinking ourselves better or less in comparison with others seems to be ingrained in our souls. I believe this is the legacy of “The Fall” of man in the Genesis account and accounts for the pride of man.
Too often pride is cast in the light of over valuing traits or attributes but as Ed pointed out, pride also is the basis for unhealthy self-abasement or self-pity. Either position finds its origin rooted in denying that He is God and I am not. Many years ago, my Bible Study leader and one of the Pastors at the church where I was connected was interviewed by the LA Times about the rapid growth of our church and the impact it was having, especially among the Hollywood crowd. I remember the reporter asking Pastor Brent, “Isn’t Christianity just a crutch for weak people?” Brent with a smile replied, “For me, it’s more like a stretcher. I am totally paralyzed and bankrupt and I need God to carry me.” When we understand our bankruptcy and the need for God to carry us, there is no basis for pride in ourselves. As Paul states in Romans, everyone has fallen short of the glory of God. In other words everyone has messed up and is much less than they think they are. We certainly are not God and desperately need His mercy and grace. At the same time, when we understand and accept that even in our decrepit state of humanness He sought us out and loved us, we now have the basis on which to build a healthy self-esteem while greatly valuing others. There is no moral or spiritual basis to continue in unhealthful self-pity because we have eternal value in Jesus Christ.
The song mentioned at the top of this blog began with the lyrics, Turn around, go back down, back the way you came. Perhaps this is prophetic. We need to go back to point where Adam and Eve walked with God in the garden in simple and unguarded relationship. Of course this is not possible unless we enter through the life of Jesus Christ. And this is where the song ends, have mercy on the people, the people Lord. In His great mercy, Jesus Christ who although He existed as God did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped but humbled Himself and took on the form of man in order to bridge the gap between God and man. The cure for pride is to walk closely with Jesus Christ.