A Jagged Contention: God’s Humble State


“[Mary] experiences in her own body that God does wonderful things with the children of men, that his ways are not our ways, that he cannot be predicted by men, or circumscribed by their reasons and ideas, that his way is beyond all understanding or explanations, both free and of his own will.

“Where our reason is offended, where our nature rebels, where our piety creeps anxiously away, there, precisely there, God loves to be. There, he confuses the understanding of the clever. There he offends our nature, our piety. There he will dwell and no one can deny him. And, now, only the humble can believe him, and can rejoice that God is so free and so wonderful, that he works miracles when the children of men despair. He has made the lowly and the humble to be lifted up. That is the wonder of wonders, that God loves the lowly: ‘God has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.’

God in the “humble state”–that is the revolutionary, the passionate word of Advent.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Sermon for the Third Sunday in Advent: “My Soul Praises the Lord,” in Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Christmas Sermons. Pg. 98. ed. Edwin Robinson


Does our preaching and teaching tend to proclaim the majestic God of glory or God in his humble state, as Bonhoeffer so beautifully describes? What is the danger of trying to know, or preach, Christ apart from his humility? What are some of the most common ways preachers seek to remove the “offense” of God’s humility?


2 thoughts on “A Jagged Contention: God’s Humble State

  1. It looks to be like he’s talking about God being in our humility. I would bet you also could remember finding him there in all comfort and encouragement.


  2. The way I see it, taking into consideration the whole Biblical account, not just a narrow scattering of selected verses, Jesus taught and reflected humility, not of an entirely passive humility, but of a spiritual and unselfish kind. He also reflected the omniscience of Holy God simultaneously, as He was never, at any point, not the Son of God and the Second Person of the Trinity. He indeed humbled Himself to be born in human fashion through Mary, and lived in poverty instead of in royalty fit for His title. But He had come as the Lamb of God to suffer for our sins and redeem us. If He had not done this, all the world would perish as stated succinctly in John 3:16. If we follow the virtues Our Lord reflected, then we would strive to be humble in spirit, yet determined in our faith, and compassionate in our daily living. At the same time, we are not called to be passive in the face of evil, but be outspoken and point to Jesus as Lord and Savior.


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