January 7, 2023

Subject: Knowing Jesus Christ, Part 1: Humility Attracts God to Me

PSALM 34:18 “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”

Ed Croteau

We all keep hearing that we live in a “Cancel Culture.” What does that mean? It is a very recent concept (the last 5-10 years) where anyone can be shunned or “cancelled” socially (on social media) and/or professionally (at work). The worst part: cancel culture only condemns. It never forgives and never forgets.

It defines truth based on each person’s situation or preference. Moral truths can be true and binding for one person and not for another. There is no standard for what is true or right versus wrong, only a self-righteous attitude of condemnation towards anyone who disagrees with another’s truth.

Consider the July dialogue between University Professor Khiara Bridges and Senator Hawley that begin with his question “You mentioned ‘people with a capacity for pregnancy.’ Would that be women?” Bridges said, “There are trans men, as well as non-binary people, with the capacity for pregnancy.”

Hawley: “So this isn’t really a women’s issue?” Bridges: “Your line of questioning is transphobic and opens up trans people to violence by not recognizing them.” Hawley: “I open up people to violence by asking if only women can get pregnant?” Bridges: “By denying trans people exist you open them up to violence.”

Hawley: “By asking who can get pregnant, I deny trans people exist?” Bridges: “Do you think men can get pregnant?” Hawley: “No.” Bridges: “You are denying trans people exist.” Professor Bridges is an example of today’s postmodern culture, labeling Hawley as bigoted toward those who are not biological women and believe they can get pregnant. The objective truth that only women can get pregnant is viewed as hurtful.

But who decided Hawley must be canceled because he thinks only women get pregnant? The effect of cancel culture is people live in fear of being “canceled” socially or professionally because something we might say or do offends someone else. So, we say nothing and allow a university professor to mock a sitting US Senator at a public hearing because he believes only women can get pregnant.

This is more than a cultural shift. This is a cultural crisis. What began as “tolerance” towards others’ desires has turned into “cancellation” when you speak out against such behavior. God’s objective standards are replaced in favor of our own. We have eliminated God’s stance on truth and become our own “gods.”

Yet, as we witnessed in the tragedy Monday night during the Buffalo vs. Cincinnati NFL game, we called for prayers to God to heal the young player who collapsed on the field from heart failure. If we reject Him in favor of self, why pray for Him to intervene only when we as “gods” are so powerlessness on our own? Our culture has become so consumed with self-righteousness that we cannot see how badly we need God.

Fortunately for us, God is not like us. In our verse this week, Psalm 34:18, He explains the first step in knowing Him, by telling us the type of person that attracts Him is the one who is brokenhearted.

To be “brokenhearted” means to be “crushed or shattered in spirit.” We find it again in Isaiah 61:10, when the Messiah tells us the type of person He will heal: “God has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted.” A brokenhearted person understands God’s standard for right vs. wrong and is broken over failing it.

God is drawn to spiritually broken, humble people who know who they have sinned against God, and they cannot fix it themselves. Rather than lashing out in self-righteousness and condemnation towards others who don’t agree with their sin, they are broken by it. Because our God is a loving Savior, this attracts Him.

To further understand to whom God is attracted, He also tells us who He avoids: “God regards the lowly, but the proud He knows from afar” (Psalm 138:6). The word for “lowly” means “humbling myself as minimal in station or position,” while “proud” is means “exalting myself as high in station or position.” To know God personally, you must come to terms with who you really are according to what He says – to His standards.

The word for “crushed” means “contrite, humbled or broken.” We find it in Isaiah 53:10: “It pleased God to crush Him,” where “crush” refers to Jesus Christ’s death on the Cross as God the Father places all our sins that have broken us upon Jesus, the only One in history who can remove our guilt for those sins.

While God forgives your sins when you trust in Jesus Christ, cancel culture rejects you for saying or doing what disagrees with them. The more we live in fear of being cancelled, the more captive we become to it.

Ed Croteau is a lay pastor and resident of Lee’s Summit and hosts a weekly study in Lees Summit called “Faith: Substance and Evidence.” He can be reached with your questions through the LS Tribune, on Facebook and his website www.fse.life.