Pay attention to the tension in your body. Let go of it and any expectations to do anything, but God’s will today. Prepare yourself to hear God’s word.
Isaiah 2:12-17 (NRSV)
For the LORD of hosts has a day
against all that is proud and lofty,
against all that is lifted up and high;
against all the cedars of Lebanon,
lofty and lifted up;
and against all the oaks of Bashan;
against all the high mountains,
and against all the lofty hills;
against every high tower,
and against every fortified wall;
against all the ships of Tarshish,
and against all the beautiful craft.
The haughtiness of people shall be humbled,
and the pride of everyone shall be brought low;
and the LORD alone will be exalted on that day.
Though he often uses large inanimate objects to make his point (the cedars of Lebanon or high towers, for example), the prophet is railing against human arrogance in this passage. Who among us would disagree? Who among us doesn’t recoil when we encounter arrogance in others, whether it’s boastful language, ostentatious living, or domineering actions?
And who among us hasn’t failed at times to recognize arrogance in ourselves? Truth is, arrogance isn’t always as obvious as troubling speech or behavior. Consider: Whenever we try to serve both God and money, Jesus said doing so is impossible…. Or we determine that “turning the other cheek” won’t work in the “real” world…. Or we exclude “those people” from our tables…. Or we believe and act in ways that are contrary to Jesus’ teachings. When we do these things, we essentially declare that we know better than he does. If that isn’t arrogance, what is?
The great teachers in our tradition tell us that the spiritual journey leads us away from arrogance toward centering on God so that we stop acting “as if” we are God. Instead, we trust the Creator and find our real identity as created ones. This prophet encourages us to journey onward.
Though we never say it “out loud,” the truth is, God, we’re often sure we know better than you how we should act and believe. But when we must admit that violence persists, race relations seem so difficult to heal, justice and peace are elusive, and even many churches are conflicted, then perhaps the time has come to admit that we don’t know as much as we thought. We’ve been arrogant rather than wise, and our arrogance is destructive. No wonder the prophet proclaims that God alone should be exalted. Grant us the humility that will enable us to embrace the spiritual journey that leads us to center ourselves in you and find ourselves at home in your grace and your wisdom. We pray in the name of Jesus, who shows us what the journey looks like. Amen.
Go with God.