Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you.
1 Peter 5:5-6
The photographs are breathtakingly poignant. Captured by the expert eye of the prize-winning photographer, they evoke memories no one still has and moments of greatness long evaporated. The book is titled, What Is Left Behind. It's a collection of pictures of exactly that, the leftovers of life now for purchase at estate sales. They are hard to look at. They are frightening in the simple truth they declare. All of the things we have, all of them, will someday belong to someone who doesn't revere them; sold at a discount to no one who cares.
It's truly a humbling experience to be mesmerized by those images—humbling precisely because they call to mind our own rush to pride, our own self-created sense of worth, and value, and meaning. We cry out like Solomon, "Vanities of vanities, says the Preacher, vanities of Vanities! All is vanity. What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:2-3)."
And it is just that humbling reality that Peter himself had experienced. Betrayed by his rough accent as he stood by the fire, he surely felt his self-sufficiency and bravado waft away with the smoke. Peter was the one who had declared he would never forsake his Lord. And Peter was the one who now caught the eye of Jesus as the guards jostled Him away to the cross. He had nothing left but memories no one wanted. Peter was undone by his pride.
Days upon agonizing days would pass before that welcoming and restoring breakfast on the beach. Peter would say, "Yes, Lord, You know I love You," without a hint of bravado. At last he knew the full reality that everything that was worth anything was found in knowing the love of Jesus. Peter had learned about humility that grows in self-insufficiency and flowers fully in the sufficiency of Christ.
So when Peter writes to the churches on the fringe of the Roman Empire, he calls the believers to be people marked by humility—humility owned and humility shared. Even as ridicule and violence began to overtake them, Christ's Ones were to forsake self-sufficient pride and walk humbly with the Lord.
That's Peter's message for us as well. Knowing that we have been saved, and loved, and restored by Jesus, there is no room for self-centeredness, no need for the hollow trappings of importance. Indeed, "Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace!"