Reflections of a Broken Man

On The Tragedy of Humanity – Part 3: Impaled by Human Pride by StephenMac
July 23, 2009, 12:17 pm
Filed under: Reflections

**Currently listening to Dismantle. Repair. (Acoustic) by Anberlin**

In the words of MPJ: For all their created nobility, human beings are tragic figures, impaled on their own pride.

That we are tragic figures stems from the fact that we are impaled by our own pride. A striking image, impaling was the form of execution used by the Assyrians, where a large, sometimes sharpened pole was hoisted into the air, with the victim sitting on top and left to slide down the pole: the pole itself slowly and excruciatingly pushing its way through the person’s insides. Not the most pleasant way to go.

Pride is like this: it is a slow and painful death. The tragedy is that it is a death of our own making. It is our own pride that ruined our created nobility: we were not content to be like God and subservient to him, but we sought to be God, equal to him. Pride is the looking out for number one, pride is the desire to be the centre of the universe, pride is thinking that we’re OK the way that we are. And it is this pride that is our own downfall. It is pride that makes us tragic figures, and tarnishes our created nobility.

Pride impales all men, Christian and non-Christian alike. If you don’t have Christ as your King and your Saviour, you naturally think you’re OK on your own. You have no need for anyone else, much less any need for God. Pride is saying that you’ll be OK on your own, even if you’re not… The rebuke of Jesus is that you’re not alright, and that one day, you’ll stand before God, and you’ll have to answer the question “Why should I let you into heaven?” If you immediately answer, “Because I…” you are placing your trust in yourself – this is pride.
Jesus’ answer is that you need to say “Because Jesus… died for me, loves me, forgave me” My trust must be in him. This is humility, the opposite of pride. Humility is placing others before you, most importantly, putting Jesus number one. In Mark, he rebukes Peter for pride: “You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men” (8:33) Peter’s error is pride, thinking along human terms, and not thinking according to God’s plan. Who do you place your trust in?

Pride affects Christians too. In one sense, we deny grace, but wanting to contribute, even a small part, to our salvation. We know Jesus did it all, we know that he died for us, and that we no longer suffer punishment. But so often, we want to pay God back in good works, prayer, turning up to church, youth group, bible study, etc. We still try to pay off our debt… we are still motivated by pride. The cross is a rebuke: we can’t do anything at all to pay back God’s grace… it’s him and only him in our salvation.

Pride affects our attitude to our brothers and sisters. This week at college, we’ve been learning about the persecuted church. The rebuke has been that we in the west are content in our comfort, and are guilty of neglecting those of us who are suffering persecution. Pride is what keeps us insular and inward focused. Pride is what stops us thinking about others who are less fortunate than us. Pride is what gives us a false attitude of moral superiority.

What we need is humility. We can’t do that on our own:

Dismantle me down! Repair!
(Dismantle. Repair.)

John Donne:
Batter my heart, three-personed God; for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
(Batter my heart, three-personed God)

24 ” ‘For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. (Ezekiel 36:24-27)


On The Tragedy of Humanity – Part 2: Tragic Figures by StephenMac
July 8, 2009, 7:30 pm
Filed under: Reflections | Tags: , , , , ,

**Currently listening to Zombie – The Cranberries. Have moved on to a random playlist until I get something new…**

In the words of MPJ: For all their created nobility, human beings are tragic figures, impaled on their own pride.

One of the few things I remember from high school English was that Shakespeare had plays that were comedies, and others that were tragedies. I thought these funny terms, especially when the comedies weren’t funny. It was later explained to me that what it meant was a comedy had a happy ending, a tragedy did not. We looked at Hamlet, and this became all the more apparent as character after character would leave the stage, never to return.

What makes humans “tragic figures” is that in contrast to our intended nobility at creation, our present condition is less than noble. And as the play progresses, we all exit, never to make it back on stage. The story of humanity is a tragedy.

**Song change: We are Broken – Paramore**

I think this song sums up our tragic situation well:

Cause we are broken
What must we do to restore
Our innocence
And oh, the promise we adored
Give us life again cause we just wanna be whole

Our sinfulness mars our nobility, and everything is messed up as a result. We are broken, and it’s our own fault.

The tragedy of humanity is still apparent today: we need only look at the death and brokenness around us to understand it’s reality. But we know this shouldn’t be, and our hope lies in the renewal of all things.


*Did I just make the naturalistic fallacy by moving from is to ought?

On The Tragedy of Humanity – Part I: Created Nobility by StephenMac
July 5, 2009, 10:19 am
Filed under: Reflections

In the words of MPJ: For all their created nobility, human beings are tragic figures, impaled on their own pride.

(Disclaimer: These thoughts are my own, based on an offhand comment in an article about Calvin)

I had an argument with my parents this morning. My parents aren’t Christian, and so when religion comes up, things usually get heated. This morning, mum took a swipe at women not being able to get leadership positions in the church, and thus, the church is oppressing women. I tried to make the point that mankind is created equal, man and woman, in the image of God. But she insisted because there wasn’t equal access to power and authority, this translates into an inequality of the sexes. Access to power and authority doesn’t necessarily mean inequality.

When God created humanity, he created an ordered relationship that was noble, a humanity that was worth something. It was created in his image, and that is what gives humanity its value, its worth, and it equality. This is why sexism and racism are so inherently evil, this is why murder, and slavery, and genocide, and oppression and hate in all its forms is so abhorrent. It is because these things deny the created nobility of humanity, and therefore, deny the nobility of God, the one who created man in his own image.

Everything begins here. Ethics, morality, theology, philosophy, anthropology, whatever-ology. Everything must begin with our unique place in God’s order: we are created in God’s awesome and beautiful and terrifying image. We have created nobility.


On Integrity by StephenMac
July 5, 2009, 10:14 am
Filed under: Reflections

So I just got back from a wedding reception. During the course of the night, I saw my two youth group leaders act with what I thought was great integrity, and it filled me with such pride.

A very wise friend once wrote that as a parent, one of the most proud moments is seeing their own child choose to do the right thing, amidst peer pressure, and without realising a parent is watching, without a sense of compulsion or fear of the parent, but choosing to act with integrity. I don’t think I’ll ever experience that situation, but I came close this evening.

The wedding was two people from my “new” church, and in keeping with their awesome hospitality and welcoming of me, they invited me along. Unfortunately, this couple had a lot of drunk friends… My two youth group leaders were the best man and the bridesmaid, and knew people in the group of “drunk friends”. After much shouting and singing and dancing and yelling, the friends decided that a few drinking contests were in order, and one of them came over and invited (numerous times actually) my youth group leaders to join them. They stood their ground and said no.

Now, it may be for a host of other reasons, including the fact that their parents were at the wedding as well as the minister and student minister (the student minister, me, had been sitting at their table spending the last 15min bagging out said drunk friends…), however, I’m hoping that it was the first steps to independent integrity: independent of their parents, of their family, of their church leaders; integrity that comes from being mature Christians.

May God continue to grow them!