The Lie of the Humble-Brag
Now, humility, or the idea of being humble is a mixed bag in our culture. Too many people, in our culture, use the guise of humility to brag about their accomplishments. There is word for that: The HUMBLE-BRAG. This phenomenon has nothing to do with being humble. When you humblebrag you are complaining about something, boasting about something, or some combination of both. Why do we do this??? We live in a culture of self-obsession. 21st century American people like to complain and we like to boast.
Ironically, we can become so obsessed with ourselves that we even need to tell people how humble we are! Here is what I want you to notice: When we build our identities on the foundation of self, there is no room for Jesus—it’s all about us. When we are obsessed with self, there is nothing to unify us with other people. And that’s a problem. The humblebrag—complaining and boasting—is the enemy of church unity. It is a lie. How do we avoid the humblebrag and pursue unity?
An Expression of Unity
Philippians 2:1-4 offers a picture of church unity. First, it reveals that we all desire the blessings of unity. What are they? Encouragement, comfort from God’s live, common sharing in the Spirit, and tender compassion. As imager bearers of God, we crave this blessing. How do we get it? Paul mentioned two ingredients: (1) Define a common conviction. Theology matters. There are core theological convictions to which we must adhere. (2) Develop a common affection. Too many church skip over this point. Theology matters, but theology must be lived out. When we care for one another deeply, we can weather the storms of conflict.
A Song of Unity
Music is powerful. There is nothing like a church that sings together in harmony. Philippians 2:5-11 was a hymn of the early church that teaches us about the life, death, resurrection and exaltation of Jesus. It is all about the Gospel! It is a song you have to get deep down in your heart! And when the whole church is singing these glorious truths, when they are going in our ears and getting lodged in our hearts. Then we will be transformed! The church will thrive! The church will be connected! This song produces generous, grace filled people.
The Mission of Unity
Finally, Philippians 2:9-11 is all about mission. We are called to tell people about Jesus. Sadly, when the church is not united on core elements—its witness suffers. When Christians are fighting amongst themselves and not standing strong against the world’s messages and Satan’s schemes—the enemy sneaks in the door. There is discord in our song. Jesus knew this. Do you remember a key element of his high priestly prayer in John 17? What did he pray?
I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one (John 17:11, NIV).
Why does Jesus pray this prayer? I do not think this was only for the first century disciples … it was also for us. Jesus prayed these words because he knew the power of sinful self-obsession. He knew our proclivity to give into the cultural messages and embrace the humble brag. The culture of self-obsession sneaks in through subtle messages and attitudes. One day it manifests itself and it is destructive. Why? It keeps our hearts from bowing before King Jesus.
I would suggest, quite simply, that the reason we are not unified at home, at church, or in the world is because Jesus does not rule our hearts. The glorious beauty of the name of Jesus has not captured us—something else has. We are slaves to whatever rules our hearts.