"Humble Love" | Mohan Bell

My friend gave me a gift for Christmas 2009:  a copy of Francis Chan’s book Crazy Love. I was not a usual reader of Christian books at the time, seeing that I spent my time engrossed in novels and plays. However, I was fresh out of undergrad with a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature and finishing my first semester in graduate school. I was confused as to how I was to proceed in this world. I was a Christian, dissatisfied with my Sunday morning life. The non-conformist, bohemian hidden deep within me was crying out for meaning and definition of life. I was struggling with depression. It was the best gift I could have gotten at that time. It was God sent.

I read the book and from the beginning I was convicted and affected. The Holy Spirit was stirring within me and I came to a final conclusion at the end: I did not love people: I did not love God. It is interesting when this realization hits you. I had been a Christian for most of my life, accepting Jesus at the age of 7 and being baptized at age 9. I had learnt the stories. But I struggled with many inner struggles and bondages. I had my ups and downs. All my life I had a slight aloofness to life, going about it mechanically, feeling that it was supposed to have larger deeper meaning. I was considered to be good and fun, but I did not have deep, close friendships. I was a stunted man. Reading the book shook me at the core because I came to the realization that the importance of life circled around Jesus’ command in Matthew 22: 37-39 “Jesus said, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’”. Following this revelation, I decided to do a 40-day sacrifice of sweet food, concentrating on seeking God. What followed was a world wind shaking up of my life, finding God in the midst of emotional brokenness, changing my church home and finding a new challenging yet healthy relationship with God and people.

I came to realize the deepest impediment in my life that prevented me from developing the deep love relationships that God required. Yes, I had experienced incredible crushing events in my life that contributed to me becoming internal and separated from others, not giving out love. This inability to love came from my separation from God. Without falling in a love relationship with God, I could only love conditionally (many of us love, but we love conditionally). For me, I loved nothing…no one. When one does not have a personal love relationship with God, one ends up being deficient of what I have discovered to be the most important characteristic in a love relationship, be it with a lover or a friend or a mother or a sister or most importantly God: HUMILITY.

Andrew Murray defines Humility as “nothing but that simple consent of the creature to let God be all, in virtue of which it surrenders itself to His working alone.” When I first read this statement, I was affected because it said to me that what was required of me when I enter into a relationship with God is that everything about me must be put aside and God becomes everything. What does it mean to be put aside, for me to enter into a relationship with God and not allow my need to be validated or my want for my life to operate in a certain way or my discomfort in the face of a task that God is prompting me to take up to hinder my obedience or my patience. This is the love relationship that I saw God calling me to: submission to him and understanding that he knows best, that He will never hurt me and that I am secure in Him. When I understand that security, I will be best able to be humble and love others as a service in humility.

I discovered that my biggest impediment to Humility is its opposite, Pride. My pride could be defined by labeling it another word: narcissism. M. Scott Peck defined Narcissism as the inability to separate ones identity from others. It was me not being able to see others as independent people who have struggles and who are not in the commerce of my gratification. Others were not put on the earth to circulate around me as planets do the sun. I was obsessed with myself; I was easily insulted by a comment that may have been deliberate or not. I committed the biggest crime of a narcissist; I assumed what others were thinking when I did not understand the reasons for their actions. I would read a text message and assume the texter was upset at me and create a narrative around them. This prevented me from loving others truthfully because A. I expected others to be in service to my emotions B. I was afraid of giving out everything just in case I got hurt. I found my security in other’s approval and taking the risk of being insulted meant I would be crushed C. I was not able to look at others and see them as created by God with their own lives and emotions and who themselves struggled with things similar to me. I could not see that maybe someone reacted to me the way they did because they had insecurities and hurt just like me. It is what C.S. Lewis explained when he referred to the verse “Do unto others as you would have them do onto you” as the reasoning for forgiveness. When you see how much of a mess you are and see that you are both victim and villain you will be able to see the complexities in others.

I still have my moments of narcissism and pride. I forget that God loves me and that all is required of me is humbling my self to him, dying to self. The realization that I am allowing my self to be the defining voice in my life causes me to go to God, repenting of my blunder and asking for him to help me to find my security and sustenance in Him. Since entering into this new place, I am realizing how much closer I have gotten to God and how much I have become friendlier as well as beginning to take risks when it comes to friendships and loving others because love has becomes a service and a ministry as opposed to my own personal political campaign. Andrew Murray says it best when referring to the byproduct of Humility:

Humility is perfect quietness of heart. It is for me to have no trouble; never to be fretted or vexed or irritated or sore or disappointed. It is to expect nothing, to wonder at nothing that is done to me, to feel nothing done against me. It is to be at rest when nobody praises me and when I am blamed or despised. It is to have a blessed home in the Lord where I can go in and shut the door and kneel to my Father in secret and be at peace as in a deep sea of calmness when all around is trouble. It is the fruit of the Lord Jesus Christ’s redemptive work on Calvary’s cross, manifested in those of His own who are definitely subject to the Holy Spirit.

Mohan Bell is a Graduate Student studying English Literature. He is also a writer who is seeking to honor God through his literary work joining in with many of the servants of God who in the past have created beautiful pieces of literature in the name of God's glory.