The old hymn’s refrain: Oh, how I love Jesus, so easily becomes Oh, how I love my elite status in the eyes of God! Oh, how I love how much better I am than the rest of the sinners! Oh, look at how upright I am!
What passes for humility in our church terminology sure looks like self aggrandizement to those on the outside. It all comes back to the question of what made my elite spiritual status effective. Under the Orthodox paradigm, I became spiritually elite when I became smart enough, committed enough, and responsive enough to gain my salvation through my actions. No amount of equivocation will ever make that concept of salvation activation anything but a gigantic source of pride and egotism. Humility doesn’t stand a chance in that salvation scenario. I may have been a terrible sinner beforehand; but, by God, I was smart enough to turn things around by doing what was required. I am a lot smarter and better than those other sinners who can’t seem to make the required move. The subconscious, self adulation goes on and on, endlessly. It’s exactly the kind of religious dogma the human ego just loves.
There are only two sources of personal identity or status in this world: the circumstances of birth and personal accomplishment. I was born a Caucasian, an American, and a male. Through some personal effort I became a husband, father, and engineer.
These same two possibilities attach to my spiritual identity or status. Either my spiritual identity is a birthright or it is an accomplishment. One, I had absolutely nothing to do with and can therefore claim no credit for, whatsoever. The other is all about me and what I have done. Which of those possibilities exalt Jesus over me? I’ll leave that for you to decide.