Sunday 13 November 2011

Arrogant? Moi?

Ouch! It was a bit of a downer to read in The Times recently that Rowan Atkinson thinks vicars are arrogant, smug and conceited. That's Rowan the comedian of course, not Rowan the Archbishop – it would be even worse if it were our own boss who thought so! I wonder what could have made Mr Bean say such things…

Of course there is a priestly desire to pontificate which doesn't always come across well. Sometimes on Thought for the Day a well-meaning vicar feels the urge to lecture us about the latest headlines, oblivious of the political, social and economic experts on the show who know far more about it than he does. "Why doesn't he get off his soap box and tell me about Jesus?" I find myself rebuking the radio. "That's what I need to get me through the day!"

Arrogance is particularly unwelcome in the church because we are supposed to favour humility. It's because of Jesus that Christians think humility is so important. At Christmas Jesus humbled himself. He gave up His glory to become a human being, to seek for us, serve us and save us. He even went to the cross to bear our sins. Just as he humbled himself for us, we have to humble ourselves to receive him. "Lord, I have let you down. I've failed to live how you wanted me to. I've hurt others. I need you. Please come into my life and help me change…" Arrogance is actually bad for you. It stops you learning new things – "I know it all already." It shuts out others – "Who needs them?" It's anti love – "It’s my life and I'll live it my way!"

And humility is not what you think. It doesn't mean crawling, being bland, pretending to be useless when you're not, or denying your worth as a human being. Look at Jesus – he asserted who he was as the Son of God, threw out money changers, confronted authority. Life with him was an adventure! Gentle Jesus, meek and mild? As if! Humility really means being ready to admit when you are wrong, open to others and willing to serve them.

Just like Jesus when he came in humility for us. He came at Christmas – to seek you, serve you and save you. This Christmas could be the start of an amazing adventure if you will ask him in. In the meantime you'll just have to make up your own mind about those arrogant vicars…

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