arrogance, Bible, Christian Life, Christianity, devotional, Easter Sunday, God, Good Friday, gratitude, haughty, humble, humility, inspirational, Jesus, motivational, My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, New Testament, Old Testament, Palm Sunday, pride, Quibble Pants, Stranger Than Fanfiction
Before I begin, I’d like to start by saying my thoughts and prayers go out to my brothers and sisters in Christ in Egypt following this Palm Sunday bombing.
Inspiration for Today’s Devotional: “Stranger Than Fanfiction”
“My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” is one show not afraid to target its own fandom, whether its for massive fanservice or to hold a mirror in the face of the darker aspects. That’s certainly true in this episode when we’re introduced to Quibble Pants. Although he says he’s a fan of Daring Do, in truth he only cares for the earliest entries in the series. The rest he constantly criticizes, scoffs at, rambles on and on against, and even goes so far as to dislike people who enjoy those parts of the series. He takes it to such an extreme that even when the impossible happens and he is confronted with the very fictional character brought to life, he still clings to his disdain and criticism. He seems to think he pretty much knows the best way to do everything in the series…even better than the creator, who happens to be Daring Do herself actually living out her books. In the ultimate show of hubris, Quibble Pants not only sets himself as a greater authority than the source, but actually feels justified in criticizing reality.
Whereas the last episode dealt with someone who was knowledgeable in their own estimation and set that as the standard for others, this one deals with someone who is genuinely knowledgeable, but believes that justifies them in all of their opinions and gives them a status above others. I called the former example a “snob” in my last devotional. This one is too, to be honest, but for this case I call it being prideful, arrogant, or “haughty”.
As you have probably noticed, as I myself blog reviews about MLP:FIM, this is going to sound a lot like the pot calling the kettle black, but here it goes. (After all, if I really think this devotional is good advice, I should heed it myself. :P)
I mentioned last time about how the Internet has led people to believe their opinion is worth more than it really is. Extending that a bit further, it therefore also logically makes many people think everyone is entitled to their opinion. Unfortunately, that’s not limited to the Internet. I’m sure we have all met someone who suffers “the curse of giving advice”.
Most of us probably know someone who always has to give their two cents on everything. Who always seems to know better than everyone else. Who always seems to be an authority on this or that life event. In some cases, this is mild. The individual in question is just a bit of a bore or annoying in conversations and gatherings. But in other cases, when the person in question is in a position of authority (or at least thinks they should be…), it can become unbearable. These sorts of individuals can be overbearing, bossy, domineering, and, in the worst situation, become like Quibble Pants in this episode and grow toxic. At this point, these people don’t simply have a bad habit but likely a psychological need to be right about everything and condemn or rage against those who disagree with them to get a sense of personal superiority and pride.
Unfortunately, there’s very little that one can do to change these individuals, or anyone for that matter. You can try distancing yourself from them and sending cues that this sort of behavior isn’t really appreciated by you personally, or perhaps even confront them about it in a tactful and polite way. Yet ultimately, the only person who can change anyone is the person themselves, and if they fail to see a problem with their own behavior it’s likely nothing will change. And, equally unfortunately, if the problem is a matter of pride then they might have a hard time seeing the issue to begin with.
What we can do, however, is make sure it doesn’t happen to us; that we don’t become inflated with our own pride.
Unfortunately, as I alluded to in my last devotional, there seem to be more temptations than ever for that. I’ve seen otherwise great and good Christians get utterly warped by the Internet. Rather than use it as a vessel to spread love or the Gospel, they use it to insult, to shout, to condemn, and, more often than not, to try and be smug and superior to others. It would be one thing if they simply slipped up and did that once in a while…but no, sometimes they seem to make a point to do it at every opportunity; always looking for places they can throw their unsolicited opinion and rarely to encourage or build up. They seem to be taking the Great Commission as an excuse to throw their two cents in on everything, and then they use those two cents to incite other people. If I’m an atheist or agnostic, and the biggest Christian I know uses their time to be as smarmy and insolent as the secular crowd, only with a sense of more self-importance because of their status as a Christian, am I going to be attracted to that? Most of these people know full well they would never talk that way to others face-to-face in real life. Why does the Internet give them the excuse?
The most shocking thing to me about the non-Christian’s view of the Christian is that they tend to think all of us go around “thinking we’re better than everyone else”. To me, Christians, far from being proud and arrogant, should likely be the most humble people of all. Sure, we can’t be “ashamed of the Gospel” (Romans 1:16) and we need to call out injustice when we see it (Exodus 23:1-3), but as Christians we should be self-aware that we have less reason to boast or brag than anyone. Far from thinking we’re better than everyone else, the Bible calls us to remember just how low we really are and hopelessly bound to sin (Romans 3:23). The only thing we can claim as Christians that other people cannot is that we recognized our need for a Savior and accepted Him in the person and sacrifice of Jesus. “God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: ‘Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.'” (1 Corinthians 1:28-31)
Nothing else that we have was earned by our own efforts. We can’t claim to know all the mysteries of God and life. Whatever power we have that does conquer the impossible comes from God, and we are aware of that. In the end, it’s about the glory of God, not about us.
Even our Lord Jesus Christ exemplified the utmost humility: first emptying Himself of all power and glory to become a tiny, mortal baby, then in living a human life of service to others (even going so far as to wash the feet of His own disciples like a common servant [John 13:1-11]), and finally in the death on Calvary. If we take Christ’s life as a model for us and He made Himself more humble than anyone in history, what right does that give us to be arrogant or domineering?
Similar to my last message, my suggestion for this devotional is simple: think a bit more before we act and speak. Especially now, on this Holy Week. As Good Friday and Easter Sunday near, let’s all take time to ponder the magnitude of just how far our Lord’s humility took Him to pay the price for our own sin and arrogance, and let that lead us to being a bit more humble and thoughtful in our own responses to others.
Suggested Prayer: “Lord God, on this Holy Week, I remember and am eternally grateful for the greatest gift I have ever received: the gift of your Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ and the sacrifice that He made to grant the world salvation. As we enter Easter and the days beyond, help me to remember that from day to day and live in the humility and gratitude of the marvelous gift I have been given at the price of His Blood. Gratefully in Jesus’ Name, Amen.”