Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Chad: A Humble Man

Fr. Dale Matson
When people hear the name Chad, most folks think of either a Country in Africa south of Libya or an incompletely punched ballot in Florida in the 2000 presidential election. March 2nd however is the Feast Day of Chad Bishop of Lichfield, 672. The Venerable Bede recorded that Chad was “a holy man, modest in his ways, learned in the Scriptures and zealous in carrying out their teaching.” Bede also recorded that Chad kept the church in truth and purity, humility and temperance. The Collect perhaps best captures the essential nature of Chad. “Chad relinquished cheerfully the honors that had been thrust upon him.” When told that his ordination was irregular, he offered to resign saying, “I never believed myself worthy of it.”

In the Epistle lesson from Philippians for Chad, St. Paul states, “I have learned to be content with whatever the circumstances.” (Chapter 4:11b, NASB). I believe that Chad and St. Paul were submitted to the will of God. This is not acquiescence or mere compliance. It is an acceptance. It is the end of grasping. It is the end of the desire to acquire more things to yourself, to adorn your ego with vestments to impress others.

The Collect also speaks to Chad’s humility cautioning us to not think more highly of ourselves than we ought which is from Paul’s letter to the Romans (12:3a). Thinking of yourself more highly than you ought is the opposite of humility. It is pride. Humility is a virtue and Pride is a sin. Paul states in Galatians (6:3) “For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.” The better we know our own hearts and ways, the less we will think in a condescending way toward others, and the more we will be disposed to help them with their infirmities and afflictions. No matter how insignificant men’s sins seem to them when committed, yet they will be found a heavy burden, when it is time for the final judgment (Paraphrase of Matthew Henry).

Thus we have two primary things that Chad demonstrates to us by his life and service that when they are combined make a powerful witness to others.They are humility and submission to the will of God which yields a learned contentment. It is not the “I don’t care” of those resigned to their fate. It is what God wills that matters and there can be a zeal in submission to His will. It is not about the resistance to giving the church more of our time, it is about a willingness to give God all of our life. When I was baptized, the thought came to me, “You are throwing away your life for this Jesus”. Yes, and each day that I am willing to do this once again, God can use me to accomplish his will on this earth. Unlike the Army that calls us to be all that we can be. Pride requires us to be more than we are and this is a performance treadmill that damages us and those around us. Christ died and rose again that we can be LESS than we are. We become less so that He may become more. Knowing who we are is a matter of knowing who we are in Christ Jesus. It is knowing about ourselves as we are known. Amen.

1 comment:

Joan Stuckey said...

Thanks for reminding us of what God expects of us. Too bad some of our pro athletes, actors and politicians are not aware of the teachings of God. One of my pastimes is volunteering to help others. Most of my life I enjoyed helping others because it made me feel good but as I grow older and read the Bible more, I now know that I volunteer to do God's work.

I am Jeri Kolke's aunt and Jacqueline Tipton's sister.