Saturday afternoons a group of youth meet at my church to learn more about the Bible. Before the study begins they sweep around the church, pull weeds and do other housekeeping tasks. As I participate more in the lives of my Chuwabo friends this has become one of my favorite parts of the week.
When I pick up a broom made from grass and rake up leaves in the hot sun it surprises my fellow weed-pullers and it certainly shocks others in the neighborhood. I can hear the giggles of girls who gather across the path to watch my inexpertise. Why would I, a “whitey” with the social position that entails, stoop to such a task out in the middle of their village?
Because Jesus teaches us humility. The greatest in his eyes is the least. The logic seems backwards and upside down. I have white skin, an education and money (compared with most Mozambicans). The world tells us to trust in these things, to seek power and recognition. But the message of the gospel is to lower ourselves, having the same attitude which was also in Christ.
Our salvation comes from recognizing our nothingness and humbling ourselves to depend on God. How could we ever accept grace without letting go of our confidence in our own strength and goodness? “He opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” And how can we demonstrate this grace to others without forgetting our own interests and entitlements? “With humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself.” After all, “Whoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant, even as the Son of Man came to serve.”
Pulling weeds is a reminder to myself and a real picture to those around me, albeit infinitesimal in comparison, of Jesus’ humility in becoming human. As I rip up roots I pray that they may see past my white skin and recognize the reason I came to Mozambique and the reason Jesus became a baby–to reveal the God who offers us life and relationship and hope, not because of who we know or what we have to offer, not because of what we do or who we are, but because of his great love.
“Most gladly will I glory in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me; wherefore I take pleasure in weaknesses.” The humble man has learnt the secret of abiding gladness. The weaker he feels, the lower he sinks; the greater his humiliations appear, the more the power and the presence of Christ are his portion, until, as he says, ” I am nothing,” the word of his Lord brings ever deeper joy: “My grace is sufficient for thee.”