What is the one evil thing that is the root of all trouble? It is pride. What is the good thing? Well, just the opposite – humility. There is no doubt about it wherever you look, from the day that man sinned to this day and to the end which the Bible gives us, you find it is just that issue which lies behind the whole history of God and man and the evil forces – just that issue. There are many aspects of it, but it comes to one question. In one way or another it can be traced to this question of pride or humility.
Yes, the whole Bible is built upon it. The whole meaning of Christ’s coming into this world is bound up with it, His very coming from glory. Somewhere, somehow, before He arrived, He “emptied himself” (Phil. 2:7). He spoke to the Father later of the glory He had with Him before the world was (John 17:5). He had laid aside all that, He had emptied Himself. And then His strange, ah, yes, very strange – until we have this key – His strange entry into this world, the circumstances of it all related to His coming and His whole time here. “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the heaven have nests [lit. roosts]; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head” (Matt. 8:20). It is all this one issue. The whole meaning of His coming – His condescension, self-emptying, birth, life, death and the whole explanation of the experiences of His people – is all centered in this one matter. The discipline, the chastening, as it is termed, the Lord’s dealings with us are centered in one thing: it is all related to the purpose for which Christ came, and how He came and how He accomplished the purpose.
And, further, the whole nature and vocation of the Church is centered in this one thing. The Church that is going to serve the eternal counsels of God will never be a Church of pride, self-glory, worldly glory, worldly power, worldly praise. It will be, ever and always, what it was at the beginning, something that the world will not look upon with praise, will always look upon with contempt. That is essential to its vocation, for its vocation is positively to displace the world, and its temper and spirit and standards; to do something spiritually in this universe to rid it of that evil thing which has been its plague and curse from Adam onward.