“Whoever boasts, should boast in the Lord.” 1Corinthians 1:31
I was first introduced to Harry Emerson Fosdick through a quote: “…real Christians do not carry their religion, their religion carries them. It is not weight, it is wings. It lifts them up, it sees them over hard places. It makes the universe seem friendly, life purposeful, hope real, sacrifice worthwhile. It sets them free from fear, futility, discouragement, and sin — the great enslaver of men’s souls. You can know a real Christian when you see him, by his bouyancy.”
What a powerful description of our faith, I thought, and what an amazing image, as I considered looking down over the rail at a mall full of Christmas shoppers to see a large number of them walking with a spring in their step, propelled upward and forward like Neil Armstrong walking on the moon.
I wanted to know more about this man, who I would discover was an American clergyman, a Baptist minister who often preached in the Presbyterian Church. He was a proponent of liberal Protestanism, and felt the Christian faith had room for people of many opinions regarding Christian doctrine.
While surely, Harry and I would have disagreed about many things, including the importance of the Virgin Birth, I was certain I would have enjoyed the conversations and the opportunity to gain his insights on what weighs a Christian down, taking the spring out of his step.
I think we would have been in agreement that one of the greatest impediments to being lifted up by faith is a lack of humility and our tendency toward self-absorption.
In fact, in his influential book in the emerging field of pastoral counseling, “On Being a Real Person,” Fosdick wrote, “At very best, a person wrapped up in himself makes a small package.”
How different is such a person – swaddled in pride and enamored only of his own opinion and enjoyment – from our Lord, a babe swaddled in the simple clothes of humble birth, whose life was a sacrificial offering of love for each one of us.
The power of Christmas is the humility of the Nativity; God, the creator of all things, born a vulnerable infant into a stable full of animals and the care of a young, inexperienced mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary.
It was this paradoxical love of our Creator that Paul tried to explain to the Corinthians: ‘God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong, and God chose the lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who are something, so that no human being might boast before God” (1 Corinthians 1:27-29).
Paul’s words remain a gift to us today, and not only at Christmas, reminding us to wrap ourselves in humility, the swaddling clothes of our Savior, living only in God and for God.[[In-content Ad]]