One of the other things that I am to do as a part of this distance course is to comment on the forum postings of other students.
So in the forum, I found a short but good post by a guy named Wayne. Apparently, he is taking a class on the gospel of Luke.
Jesus’ warnings against exalting yourself in 14:7-11 stand in contrast with the growing practice of self-promotion through facebook, twitter and blog sites which is fueled by a general tendency in America to market oneself. As Bock puts it, this parable illustrates that the way of honor as a disciple of Jesus is to receive honor when honor is due. It is not the way of presuming honor or seizing it. The Jesus way acknowledges a sovereign God at work in history who exalts or humbles people as needed. The way of excessive self-promotion displays a lack of faith in God’s action.
I quite agree, especially regarding the rather repugnant way we are taught in American culture to glorify ourselves. We are told that there should be no greater love in our lives than the person we see in the mirror. And there should be no greater allegiance to anything other than ourselves. (Actually, the two gods called ‘state’ and ‘market’ expect us to give our greatest allegiance to them. But the former promises not to call on us too often, and the latter promises to make us high, so that even as we bow, we’ll enjoy the euphoria of self-gratification.)
I have a book called Heroism & the Christian Life: Reclaiming Excellence. The authors (Hook and Reno) open the book by taking a thoughtful look at the idea of Christian excellence. As they put it,
“we hope to investigate the odd and difficult relationship between what is Christian and what is heroic. To call someone a ‘hero’ draws attention to his or her distinctive character and achievement. The hero is worthy of praise and emulation. Christianity, in contrast, points beyond the disciple and toward Jesus Christ. John the Baptist expresses just this dynamic when he says of Jesus, ‘He must increase, but I must decrease’ (John 3:30). No matter how remarkable the sacrifices of a saint or the ascetic achievements of a monk, Christianity teaches that praise goes to Christ alone.”
This leads them to go on to discuss “heroic self-denial.”
It is an interesting—almost paradoxical—puzzle, isn’t it?