“He must become greater; I must become less” exclaimed John the Baptist. The apostle Peter also expressed this paradox, the crux of Christian faith: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.”
This morning a sentence caught my attention from Richard Rohr’s new book: “You will have many more Aarons building you golden calves than Moseses leading you on any exodus.” Do my golden-calf-like attempts to exalt (magnify, glorify, celebrate) God keep me from the exodus, the necessary ego-abandoning humbling?
Too often we can’t wait to exhale, to breathe exalted air and experience ecstasy; so we work to exalt ourselves or our children or our church. Jesus says: “When I am lifted up (on the cross, as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness) I will draw all people to myself.”
The word exalt is based on the Latin words for out and high. God is the farthest out, the highest power, the most exalted. Through the ancient psalm God speaks: “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth.” On June 27 The Wall Street Journal published a Salvation Army ad picturing a woman walking through devastation in the aftermath of a tornado with the caption: “We combat natural disasters with acts of God.” Yes, God is exalted among the nations. Three days this past week I was privileged to watch the cloud-obscured sunrise at Virginia Beach. With grass stalks standing at attention my heart affirmed, God is exalted in all the earth.