We have been exploring this idea of wonder-filled bold humility from the perspective of gratitude and the created world around us. You can find out more about that at part 1 and part 2 of this short series.

If you have not had a chance to watch the video above (and even if you have, it’s worth watching again) I would encourage you to take out 6 minutes to take in its simple, but profound message.

But it is also possible to explore wonder-filled bold humility in an even deeper way. To go deeper requires an understanding of how and where do I find a sense of acceptance? How do I know I am measuring up – that is, living up to a certain standards, either my own self- decided ones,  or to an external set prescribed by my faith (if I profess to follow one)?

Tim Keller in his very helpful book ‘The Reason for God,’ puts it like this (page 180) when addressing the issue of our identity and self-regard:

“In a religious framework, if you feel you are living up to your chosen religious standards, then you feel superior and disdainful toward those who are not following in the true path. This is true whether your religion is of a more liberal variety (in which case you will feel superior to bigots and narrow-minded people) or of a more conservative variety (in which case you will feel superior to the less moral and devout). If you are not living up to your chosen standards, then you will be filled with a loathing toward yourself. You will feel far more guilt than if you had stayed away from God and religion altogether.”

In many ways I find Keller’s insights extremely helpful in explaining my own personal life experience and spiritual journey (you can watch a 15 minute video on how that started here), particularly with regard to my own negative feelings. The oscillation between extreme self-coonfidence (also known as arrogance!) and self-loating can be traced back to my understanding of how Jesus’ death and resurrection applied to my life and impacted the way I viewed myself. Keller goes onto describe his own experience which I can very much identify with:

“When I was performing up to my standards – in academic work, professional achievement, or relationships – I felt confident but not humble. I was likely to be proud and unsympathetic to failing people. When I was not living up to standards, I felt humble but not confident, a failure….”

This leads us onto how understanding the implications of Jesus’ death and resurrection can be so powerful. I have written about these two events in previous blog posts entitled A Day that Changed the World and 4 Personal Implications of the Resurrection). Keller expands on this by explaining what is meant by the Gospel. I will let him carry on:

“…I discovered, however, that the gospel contained the resources to build a unique identity. In Christ I could know I was accepted by grace not only despite my flaws, but because I was willing to admit them. The Christian Gospel is that I am so flawed that Jesus had to die for me, yet I am so loved and valued that Jesus was glad to die for me. This leads to deep humility and deep confidence at the same time. It undermines both swaggering and snivelling. I cannot feel superior to anyone, and yet I have nothing to prove to anyone. I do not think more of myself nor less of myself. Instead, I think of myself less. I don’t need to notice myself – how I am doing, how I’m being regarded – so often.”

This, I have come to believe, is the secret to lasting wonder-filled bold humility. My sense is that, although I certainly have a long way to go, that journey has started for me. The first step is understanding and internalising the Gospel message, as described above, into my own personal life story. The rest of life is then about applying the implications of the Gospel into every area of my life.

How about you?

How does this journey to wonder-filled bold humility resonate (or not) with you?

Please feel free to share your thoughts and observations below.