The essence of unity is humility. Campus Renewal Ministries is not so much trying to unify the Body of Christ as we are trying to build an atmosphere of genuine humility among ministry leaders because humility changes the spiritual climate of our campuses.
He mocks proud mockers, but shows favor to the humble and oppressed. Proverbs 3:34
For this is what the high and exalted One says—he who lives forever, whose name is holy: “I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite. Isaiah 57:15
… if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. II Chronicles 7:14
God’s favor is on the humble. God’s presence is with the humble. He brings revival to the humble.
The Opposite of Humility
In Philippians 2, Paul says, “do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility…” The opposite of humility is selfish ambition and vain conceit.
Selfishness is the act of caring about one’s own needs above others. Selfish people do not see the needs of others. They only think about themselves. Ambition is the internal desire to do something great. So selfish ambition is the desire to have one’s needs and opinions validated in order to make one’s own name great.
Vain people have an excessively high view of themselves and their abilities. Conceit is excessive pride in oneself. Vain and conceited people have an inflated view of themselves and do not believe they need other people. They think they have a corner on truth and their views and opinions are always right.
In Philippians 2, Paul goes on to say, “… but in humility, value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.” Paul defines humility as valuing others above oneself and looking to others interests above one’s own.
My friend, Jim Herrington, describes a relational scale. He says relationships should move from tolerating each other, to accepting each other, to valuing each other. Valuing each other is the goal. Paul says this much.
Valuing each other means that we see the differences among us, but we don’t despise them. We rejoice in them and recognize the value in them. Beyond that, we are concerned for each others interests and wellbeing above our own. This is humility.
For too long people have tried to simply apply scriptures like these on a personal level. While we certainly have to apply these to interpersonal relationships, we also need to apply these truths to the way we relate to one another and ministries and churches.
Too often ministries act out of selfish ambition and vain conceit. They are first concerned with making their ministry great. They don’t have concern for the other campus ministries at all. Ministries often act in a vacuum, without knowledge, let alone concern, for what any other ministries are doing on campus. If they have concern for others, they would at the very least be in relationship with one another, but so often college pastors don’t even know each other.
If campus ministry leaders get to know one another more personally, they can actually begin to do what Paul is describing. You cannot know the “interests of others” until you get to know them. You cannot “value” other campus ministries until you know who they are and what they are doing. This is why Campus Renewal Ministries starts “Fusion Groups” for pastors to pray together weekly to grow in relationship and vision.
Another definition of unity is “God’s recognition of our need for one another.” We need each other. We need genuine humble relationships with one another in order to see our campuses transformed.
Justin Christopher is the National Campus Director for Campus Renewal Ministries and the author of Campus Renewal: A Practical Plan for Uniting Campus Ministries in Prayer and Mission. He facilitates CRM’s Partnering Campus Network and also gives leadership to the Campus House of Prayer and the missional community movement at the University of Texas.