I’m not sure how you’re feeling at the end of this term. Maybe you’re tired or burnout and this term has been a hard one. Or maybe it’s been great and you’re thankful for lots of the good things that have happened over the last few weeks. For me, the end of this term is a little bittersweet because it’s time to hand over to a new exec who will lead Just Love in Durham over the next year. As an exec, we’ve had a wonderful year serving on committee and we’ll be sad to end our time together, but we’re also so incredibly excited to be handing over to the new exec and we can’t wait to see all that God is going to do over the next year here in Durham.
Endings can be a little tricky, especially when what’s ending has been such a good thing. This is true for me and the team as we leave the Just Love exec. We’ve seen God do wonderful things this year and it’s been a joy to be part of. From students spending time every week volunteering at foodbanks, to seeing pioneering work being done to bring an end to homelessness in our city through the Durham Winter Night Shelter, as well as prayer being raised for our nation, God has clearly been at work in our hearts and in our city this year. It’s wonderful to be able to look back on these things and celebrate what God has been doing in our city through his Church.
However, it’s also incredibly important for us to remember that these good things have only been possible because of God. This is not about us. This is not about the things we have done. Rather, this is a story of how God has been at work in our city, redeeming all things and all people to himself. Humility is a crucial ingredient in the pursuit of justice. In Micah 6:8 we are called to ‘walk humbly.’ Rather than resting on our own abilities and allowing our pride to grow as we look back on what we see as our own achievements, we need to remember that none of this is about us. In his book The Power of Humility, R.T. Kendall draws our attention to Uzziah as an example of how costly this kind of pride can be. Uzziah was one of the longest-reigning Kings of Judah, sitting at the throne for over fifty years. In 2 Chronicles 26:5 it says that ‘as long as he sought the Lord, God gave him success.’ God made him successful in war (v.2), his fame spread far across the land, and he became exceedingly strong (v.8). However, once he became powerful and successful, he seemed to forget the source of this success. He forgot that God was the one that had enabled him to achieve these great things and he became riddled with pride. For Uzziah, this led to his downfall and destruction. For Uzziah, pride had a high cost.
The danger of pride for Uzziah, and for us here today in Durham, is that we focus on all the good things we have managed to achieve and we forget to look to the true source of perfect justice in Christ. We forget to thank God for his mercy on us, that he would choose to dwell amongst us and use us for the building of his kingdom on earth. As we finish our time on exec together, it is right to look back and consider the good things that have happened in our city. Crucially, however, we want to remind ourselves that, as Proverbs 3:6 calls us to do, we are to remember the Lord in everything and point all the glory back to him. When we humble ourselves, God gets more of the glory that he ultimately deserves. In everything we do, let’s pray for even less of ourselves, and even more of God.