News from the Tennessee Valley Religion

Rev. Bobby Newman

The persuasive power of humility

Of all the characteristics I find attractive in a person, humility ranks high on the list. When thinking back to my childhood exposure to Christianity, it is this quality in its founder that stands out.

Describing God’s servant, Isaiah wrote: “Behold! My Servant. He will not cry out, nor raise his voice, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed He will not break and smoking flax He will not quench; He will bring forth justice for truth.” (Isaiah 42:1-3, New International Version)

When we consider the qualifications required to fit the Messiah, what strikes us is not so much the miracles he performed or his ability to convey truth as a storyteller but his humble nature.

For me, at least, this characteristic is very persuasive. I find great satisfaction in knowing Jesus did not use force to attempt to coerce acceptance of himself or his teachings. It is fairly accepted that Christians, in imitation of Jesus, did not take up arms for at least the first 300 years of their existence. Jesus seemed content to let the validity of his claims, his person, his wisdom, to fail or succeed in the free market world of ideas.

In the New Testament we see Jesus use the statements “Whosoever will,” “If any man would,” “Who do you say I am?” and so forth to present his message. In a world where people sometimes use force or violence, I am impressed and thankful that the New Testament bears record that Jesus did not. Nor did he encourage his followers to do so. Often in his discussions with his detractors, Jesus posed a question and even frequently answered questions with a question of his own.

A question is an invitation to think and reason for ourselves — to stretch ourselves. It is a non-threatening way to exchange ideas. A good question invites us into the discussion and allows us room to be imaginative in our thoughts and positions.

Perhaps this humility factor has been lost over the years. If so, maybe we should re-examine it.

Years ago while researching a school project with my son I thumbed through an old World Book Encyclopedia (1959), and in the J volume I found an excellent biography of Jesus Christ. There it was factually stated, as quite possibly it might not be stated today, that Jesus Christ had influenced the world more than anyone else in history.

If so, I believe it had something to do with the strength of his humility.

The Rev. Bobby Newman, pastor of Oak Park Church of God, is one of several local ministers writing religion columns for The Daily. For more info, call Melanie Smith at 340-2468.

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