A few days ago a young friend I will call Amanda phoned me to discuss a few things that were on her mind. It seems that “Lent” has permeated her Reformed community, and the ubiquitous question has been, “What are you giving up for Lent?”

Together we formulated a response. It was along the lines of, “The essence of the Gospel is that Christ gave up everything for me in order to redeem me from my sin. My response is now to give up my whole life for him through daily obedience to biblical truth.

If we desire to have that signified in a special way, God has taken care of that. Baptism signifies the washing away of our sin and The Lord’s Supper our union with Him through his atoning death. Eating or abstaining from chocolate for forty days (for instance) doesn’t make the shortlist!”

Amanda then went on to say that her pastor seems to have suggested he considers the new Roman Catholic Pope a ‘humble’ man.

“A humble man?”, I asked. “You mean that man who calls himself the Holy Father? That title that Christ applied to God the Father alone?”

“And you mean that man who also calls himself Head of the Church? That title, that role, that the Bible applies to Christ alone?”

“Humble? No, blasphemous!”

Whether the Pope lives in a palace, an apartment (his choice, apparently) or a broom closet…

There is a horizontal element to humility. But mostly, it is vertical. It is walking humbly with our God through obedience to every word that comes from his mouth.

And has this been the compelling desire of the Roman Catholic Church through the centuries?

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