“You are a team USA fan because you say ‘we’. You say ‘We won the race by .08.’ You say ‘We won 8 golds.’” So begins AT&T’s commercial that has been running these Olympics.
The Olympics are the perfect time to talk about humility. People around the world rally in support of their country and each individual swells with pride at the accomplishments of those who achieve greatness.
In light of the greatness of these athletes it is important to remember what God looks on as true greatness: humility. In Isaiah 66:2 God says, “This is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.”
God calls us to be people who are marked with humility, but is there a more difficult call than that? Is there any injunction in scripture that rubs against our human impulse more?
Sometimes we let ourselves off the hook with our pride because in our minds we justify ourselves: “Hey, there’s no problem feeling this way because I am the best.” Or we justify our pride because we think that no one else properly appreciates us (as if a lack of external affirmation gives us allowance for sin).
And yet the most glorious and most disgraced human ever to walk the world lived a different way. Jesus – misunderstood, despised, rejected, ridiculed, underestimated – never responded in a way that glorified or justified or defended himself. He glorified the Father: even when he was backstabbed by a friend, even when his friends wouldn’t stand with him, even when those he had taught, provided food for, and healed thought him more worthy of punishment than a common criminal… even when he hung naked on the cross.
The Son of God? How can we emulate him? Only through his power, only through his strength. But if we were to be a community that was truly marked by humility, we would be a community whose witness to the humble Savior would be unbelievably profound. And that’s better than being part of team USA… any day.