Pride and faith may seem like an odd title for a reflection. Especially when the overall subject of this blog is to talk about God in the World. Yet, once I type the word, “world”, putting the words pride and faith together seems extremely relevant to what we are called to face as people choosing a path to God. I like the picture above of the pride of lions. It shows how I would like to live faithfully in this world.
Don’t we all wish we were strong in our faith and also as confident as a lion? Of course, I’m using a play on words, because I like plays on words. We use the word “pride” in a positive way. Have pride in your work. Gay pride parades and gay pride week are events that are used to encourage people to be confident in themselves. When we use the word pride, we often are using the word when we actually mean confident.
The above definitions are the ways of being that we want to support in our faith, in coming out, in living a life that treats all as people of value and worth. Compare the information listed above with the word origin of Pride:
Word Origin & History
late Old English pryto, Kentish prede, Mercian pride “pride, haughtiness, pomp,” from prud (see proud). There is debate whether Scandinavian cognates (Old Norse pryði, Old Swedish prydhe , Danish pryd, etc.) are borrowed from Old French (from Germanic) or from Old English. Meaning “that which makes a person or people most proud” is from c.1300. First applied to groups of lions late 15c., but not commonly so used until c.1930. Paired with prejudice from 1610s.
Synonyms for pride
I left a few more of the synonyms for pride up, because this particular writing is about how pride keeps us from faith. Confidence would mean to listen to God speaking to us and having the confidence to go forth. Pride means we trust our own ability more than G_d. Seems so obvious when pointing out the difference. Yet, pride can sneak up on us and skew our ability to see the true path of G_d.
Let’s not get caught up in all the ways we as Christians mess us the word “true” for now. Let’s just presume that we all believe that the true path of the Christian is to live as Jesus lived. We are not here to argue dogma. This blog is just a way to look at life and how we live it fully in the name of Christ. In other words, how can we embrace weakness, insult, hardship, persecution, and calamity for the sake of Christ?
“My grace is sufficient for you, for power[c] is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.”
2 Corinthians 12:9-10
Oh, and don’t look at me. I have no idea. I’m writing this blog because I admit to you, that I am a prideful person. I come from a family of stubborn people proud of the hard work that we can do. In my life, I have been strong and endured a lot. My goal was to be faithful. Now, as I embrace my life as an older and disabled adult, I often struggle because I can’t “DO” all that I want to “DO”! The Corinthians passage is from my devotion this morning and it clearly points out how I have failed. The beauty of that passage is that though it points out my failure, it also shows the way to get back up and get on the path to G_d.
For, if we take the word pride in our conversations and lives and replace it with confidence instead, our viewpoints and emphases can be changed. What if we said it is important to have “confidence” in our work instead of pride? If we have confidence in our work, it means that we have learned how to work in qualitative ways rather than quantitative ways. What if we called it “Confidence Week” instead of Pride week? Would we be able to further embrace the goodness of being created “just as I am” in a more holistic way?
As I think about these differences today, the word “confidence” leads me back to scripture.
Philippians 1:6 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
6 I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.
The truth is that like many humans (most of us?), I’ve learned why it’s said that pride goes before a fall. When we are prideful, we will think we can do it ourselves without the help of others. When we are prideful, we often rush in to “help” a situation and that “help” turns into hindrance instead. Our scripture lists many ways that human pride interferes with G_d’s actual will. Yet, all of our biblical heroes are people who embraced their weaknesses and allowed G_d to work through them and with them. This always reminds me of one of my favorite saints, St. Francis and his prayer:
I’ve loved this prayer since I was a child. It spoke to me as a musician and it spoke to me of how I wanted to live my life in the name of Christ. That doesn’t mean that there’s not a lot to learn. It doesn’t mean that there’s not a constant evaulation of motive and meaning. This prayer does echo the nature of our merciful God however. Whenever we fail or fall short of G_d’s desire for us in life, there is mercy. Like Paul, when he encountered calamity, we try again. We never give up in the name of Christ.