Crumbling or Humbling?
by Pat Hobin
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To Him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
I Peter 5:6-11
In early March, I went to Cuba on a short-term mission trip. As I am sure you have heard, Havana looks like a movie set from the 1950s. There is nothing new, and everything has a very dated or dilapidated appearance. Some call Havana “The Crumbling City.” The architecture is spectacular but literally crumbling slowly from neglect.
Upon my return to Dallas, I began to realize that the Western Church looks a lot like Havana—not necessarily a movie set out of the 1950s or an outward crumbling building, but instead a crumbling that stems from an acquiescence or acceptance of the way things are in our culture. We gloss over things we should probably find bothersome and, in many cases, appalling. We have become desensitized to seeing sex and violence on television with no real concern as to how it might significantly affect our hearts. We have become obsessed with a singular pursuit of comfort as if it is a right to which we are entitled. We celebrate an idolatrous devotion to sports with virtually no awareness of how it compromises worship of our God. It appears that by turning a deaf ear and a blind eye, we have been lulled to sleep. Tragically, I think we are sleeping well.
As I think about our Cuban brothers and sisters, I think about all of us in light of I Peter 5: 6–11. This passage exposes how differently things look when faith rules a heart as opposed to relying on self-sufficiency. Self-sufficiency tells us that only fools humble themselves and that we should, instead, exalt ourselves. It has us scoffing at the thought of an adversary and feeling quite safe dancing with a roaring and ravenous lion. It also tells us that we know what is best and reinforces the commitment to control our own lives.
This passage wakes us up from our slumber and helps us realize that objectionable entertainment, an obsession with comfort, and misplaced worship are truly dangerous—deadly is more accurate. If we believe that, really believe it, then maybe it is time to address those three areas beginning with our televisions, comfort sources, and sports appetite. Self-indulgence signals a lack of sober humility.
This passage tells us to humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God. When we do, we are yielding control and acknowledging His sovereign authority over us. If we truly understand that, it is incredibly freeing, and it gives us eyes to see and ears to hear. We see Him as the Giver and Sustainer of life, and we hear His voice guiding and directing us. We trust in the work He has done for us and in the promises He has made to us.
This passage tells us to humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God, so at the proper time, He may exalt us. Who does the exalting? He does, and He will do it on His timetable. Who does He exalt? He exalts those who are willing to humble themselves before Him.
This passage tells us to humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God, casting all our anxieties on Him because we know He cares for us. He alone is the One who is worthy of our worship. Don’t ever forget that, and don’t ever forget that He cares for us. He is our true source of comfort!
This passage tells us to be sober-minded and be watchful because we have a real adversary. We are to resist him, firm in our faith. Operating out of faith allows us to stand firm, as opposed to operating out of a paralyzing or compromising fear.
Finally, this passage tells us to be prepared for the same kind of suffering that is being experienced by our brotherhood throughout the world. We are not promised comfort, but we are told that we will only suffer for a little while. We rest in the truth that the God of all grace, who has called us to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish us.
May we trust Him, and may the truth of this passage be evident in our lives today, tomorrow, and forever! Amen!