The Bible has a lot to say about pride.  ‘Pride’ or ‘proud’ appears about 120 times in the Old and New Testaments, and not much of it is positive.  James offers a representative sample: “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6).  The general sense of scripture is that God hates pride and we should do whatever is necessary to avoid it.

That’s why I’m struggling right now! If I were to be completely honest in this moment, I would have to tell you that I’m extremely proud right now.  

I’m so incredibly proud of the work we did together last week at Fall Fest; I’m proud of the staff who provided phenomenal leadership; I’m proud of the number of people who attended- north of 2,000; and I’m most proud of the number of volunteers who showed up to love our neighbors, pass out candy, help families take pictures that will last a lifetime, share a meal that fed body and soul and ensure a safe and welcoming environment for our guests.  I’m so proud to be part of a church that is committed in every way to loving our neighbor and connecting them with the hope of the gospel!

But the way the Bible talks about pride makes me hesitate to say so!  Perhaps pride isn’t quite right.  One of the reasons God so aggressively denounces pride is that pride says ‘I’m responsible for this,’ which would mean that God isn’t responsible for it. The reason God exhorts His people over and over again to avoid pride is that He wants them to remember that He is the source of every blessing.  That’s why life with God is a blessed life!

So maybe I shouldn’t say that I’m proud in the wake of Fall Fest. I’m certainly clear that neither I, nor our staff, nor our volunteers were responsible for the ministry that took place on our campus.  Rather, I’m confident that it was, in fact, God who brought the people, the volunteers and the vision to our doorstep.  If that is so, which I absolutely believe it is, then gratitude ought to replace pride: I’m grateful for our staff; I’m grateful for the people who came; I’m grateful for our volunteers; I’m grateful for a God who is working on our collective hearts as we become the kind of community that connects our neighbors with the hope of the Gospel.  What a gift God is giving us!

Peace in Christ,

Pastor Matt

PS: While gratitude is on our minds, don’t forget that our Thanksgiving Dinner is quickly approaching on November 15th (link to register)!  The only agenda for this evening is to enjoy each other and thank God for a community that is life-giving, forward looking and outwardly turned.  I can’t wait to see you there!