Community is Key (Part 2): Pride

pride

“Pride is the deadliest poison that can kill a relationship”

-unknown

Have you ever spoken with someone who boasted so much about his accomplishments that you wanted to gag? Or they listed so many of their child’s achievements in school that you don’t even know their child and you don’t like her?  Have you been with a person when the conversation revolves around his new car, boat, or vacation? If nothing gets on your nerves more than a person who only talks about themselves or their own in a conversation….you have been on the receiving end of pride.

Pride is a community & relationship killer.   It can lie to us and make us believe that we don’t need others/community.  It lets us think we can achieve things for ourselves.  The world tells us to be independent and achieve on our own.  However, God designed us to be in community with others, helping them and allowing others to help us.  Pride crowds out other people…Pride crowds out God. Pride causes us to take credit for what God has done.

There are 2 types of pride, the first being selfish pride. This can be defined as “excessive confidence or glorification in one’s self, possessions or nation.”  Synonyms for pride include arrogance, haughtiness and conceit, among others. In the Bible, selfish pride caused Satan to believe he didn’t need God and wanted to be his own god.  The Bible says in Isaiah 14:14, “I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High” (New International Version).  Satan’s pride caused him to fall away from God and in turn he temped Adam and Eve to do the same.  Genesis 3:5 says, “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (New International Version).  Adam and Eve’s pride caused them to disobey God and sin (separation from God) entered the world.  As you can see, this type of pride produced division. 

The Bible also speaks of a healthy form of pride. This type of pride does not create division.  It is pride in others that are living in obedience to God.  It is the reasonable self-respect we have in ourselves and others. Paul speaks of this in 2 Corinthians  7:4, “I have great confidence in you; I take great pride in you. I am greatly encouraged; in all our troubles my joy knows no bounds” (New International Version).  Here, Paul is speaking of his confidence in Christians.  In 2 Corinthians 12:9, Paul says “…Therefore I will boast all he more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  Paul is boasting in  the strength that comes from the Lord.

Pride has caused me to resist seeking help.   Being a business owner creates a lot of extra expenses, and I wanted to figure out how to manage my money on my own.  Pride caused me to not want to receive help from anyone & to make sure I was saving well for all my business expenses –instead I would stress out every time an expense came up.  Once I finally admitted I couldn’t do this on my own, I reached out to someone for some guidance.  Pride diminishes our capacity to admit: we need help, we did wrong, etc. It prevents us from the community God designed to help us.

Pride also prevents us from acknowledging and apologizing.  Lets face it: we are human and will mess up.  Saying you are sorry means swallowing your pride and acknowledging your mistakes.  Only through admitting, apologizing, and forgiveness do relationships and communities stay in tact.  Pride tempts us to believe we are right even when we were very wrong.

Pride tempts us to take credit for what God has really done. Even if we feel we worked really hard to achieve a goal, like raising a well-behaved child or advancing at work, it is God who gives us life, breath, and abilities — and ultimately does what He wants.  Though God does ask us to work our hardest for Him (Colossians 3:23), He is the one who gives us our skills, abilities, and opportunities. Sometimes even the best parent can have the strongest willed child who goes astray, and sometimes the best worker in a career is let go because the economy is down. We can’t take credit or blame ourselves — some things are out of our control.

It is important to kill pride before pride kills your relationships, and ultimately your community.  We need God and we need others.

Community is Key (Part 1)

“We need drugs, apparently, because we have lost each other”

-Wendell Berry

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Why are we working ourselves to death to reach an ideal of “the American dream”, which ends up leaving us empty and alone?  We are told to be independent and achieve, even if it means pushing other people aside in the process.  The “every man for himself” mentality of America is resulting in people with longer wish lists and empty hearts.

God himself is very relational and is always in community with the Trinity (Father, Son, Holy Spirit).  During Jesus’ time on earth, he lived in community, having 12 disciples as his closest friends.  Not only does great joy come from relationship, but also accountability.  I am a lot more likely to fail/fall short in some way when I have no one around to see what I’ve done.  Additionally, emotional support–or “bearing one another’s burdens” — is a huge benefit of community.  I know from personal experience, I wouldn’t be where or who I am today if I was in life all alone.

 Lets face it – life is straight-up hard.  We face things that knock us right off our feet. If you haven’t gone through something really difficult, you will.  Not to mention, navigating through controversial issues we face today — including recent media topics of sexual orientation, race, & gender identity– add internal battles to the list of why life is hard.  Our enemy is always looking to divide — our families, churches, groups, or other any type of relationship.  If the enemy can get us alone, we are left with only ourselves and our thoughts.  When we seek answers to life’s questions inside ourselves, we are left with our sinful nature and desires to make decisions.  There is nothing more empirically verifiable, yet intellectually resisted as the destructiveness of human nature.  The corners of your mind are the last place to look for answers to meaning, morality, and destiny.  Lets face it, the best answer most of us have to negative life circumstances and internal confusion is a pint of Ben&Jerry’s.

What would happen if we became more community oriented? If instead of focusing on our own success/achievements/issues– at the detriment to our hearts–we poured into our families, friends, and reached out to outcasts?  Luke 15:1-10 says, “Now all the tax collectors and the sinners were coming near to listen to Him.  Both the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them”. Jesus included the outcasts and loved them. When Jesus reached out to the Samaritan woman at the well, he changed her life.  She became a witness to other Samaritans, spreading the good news of Christ’s love and the new life he had to offer.

What would happen if we made an extra effort to pull in those who feel like outsiders?  What if we let them know that there is a place for them, no matter their past or what they are carrying.

It is important to unite based on our similarities, rather than divide over our differences. In ANY relationship, the people involved will not agree on everything.  Disagreement does not need to be disrespectful.  Why do we draw battle lines when our ideals aren’t the same?  You can value and respect someone for the sake of their intrinsic value, even if they believe very differently than you.

Leaving people alone to figure things out themselves is dangerous, which constant division based on differences is doing.  Every time we pick teams, someone is left out in the cold.  Isolation leads to depression, which can lead to chemical addiction or other mental disorders. Mental illness is serious and can lead to violence — as we’ve seen over and over again in our country.

We all need to be more inclusive.

We were not meant to live life alone.  An “us” vs “them” mentality is harmful and divisive.