May 19, 2015

please, pour contempt on all my pride

I love my pride because it keeps me going long past when any sane person would quit. It keeps me focused in a world full of distractions. It’s my pair of pliers.  It’s my mixing spoon.  It’s my way with words.  It’s the most useful tool I have, so I use it a lot.  Practice makes perfect, after all.  So when I do well, my pride goes to my head.  Pretty soon my pride lives up there and has its own key. 

But if pride moves into my head and redecorates when I do well, it changes the locks and throws everything else out on the lawn when I mess up.  Pride makes me open my mouth when I shouldn’t and shut up when I should talk.

That’s why I love my pride. When I think of how happy I could be if I just swallowed it, I fall in love with it all over again, because it reminds me how much better it is to prove a point.

I dig my heels in.  I double down. I prove a point. I write epic screenplays where I rehash past battles and title them things like “What I Wish I Said” and “FINE” when they really should be called “How To Make Mountains Out Of Mole Hills” or maybe just “Well, That Didn’t Work”.

I love my pride too much to ever surrender it to a higher power.  So when a scrawny beaten man gets nailed to a cross and says it’s because of me and my beloved pride, I grumble. The cross mocks my pride, defies my ego, and part of me would honestly rather do away with it…or maybe just take that bloody Jesus off of there.  Then, I can turn it into just a symbol for me to wear around to remind everyone else that I’m Christian enough to be proud of it.  I really do love my pride.

But that Jesus who stares down at me from His cross can’t come down from there.  He’s wearing my pride as a crown of thorns.  He’s become my sin.  It wasn’t just my pride that nailed Him to the cross. My pride was nailed to the cross. My pride and all my other sins were named Jesus, and they were punished.  The Father poured contempt on all my pride.  The Father gave His only Son.

This Jesus who knew no sin became sin, and it was for me.  But where my pride would have protested, Jesus didn’t.  Where my pride would have been stone faced, He said “Father, forgive them”. 

When I survey the wondrous cross on which the prince of glory died, cool water is poured on my pride.  Holy words are spoken.  “In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”  I’m baptized into that cross with living water, welling up to eternal life. 

Every single day it drowns my pride along with all sins and evil desires so that a new man may daily emerge and arise to live before God in righteousness and purity forever.  This living water will quench my pride. Every. Single. Day.

And that’s the secret. Every day my pride comes back. Every day I drown it in baptism. Every day the new man rises again.  Every bit of it comes from that wondrous cross where my Lord spoke forgiveness to a sinner like me. I don't tame my pride. Jesus forgives it.

That’s real forgiveness that springs up like a fountain and pries open stubborn jaws to say “I’m sorry” and knots prideful tongues that need the last word.  That’s real forgiveness that I hang on to every single day because my soul and my life and my all aren’t enough to slay my pride, but His are.