Proverbs 11:1-3, 16:8; 29:23;
“Pride Before the Fall”
Sermon Series: Spider-Man 3: The Battle Within
By: Rev. Ken Sauer, Pastor of Grace United Methodist Church, Soddy Daisy, TN www.graceumcsd.org
Pride, pride, pride…
…who of us have not had a problem with pride?
When we first meet Peter Parker in Spider-Man 3—a crime-free city is celebrating Spider-Man and awards him the key to the city—feeding Parker’s conceit and pride.
As the movie continues, Spider-Man learns the identity of his uncle’s killer—Flint Marko, who—by way of the usual freak accident has become a nebulous villain—The Sand-Man.
We’ll meet him a little later in the month of September.
When Peter Parker finds out who his uncle’s killer is—Mary Jane, Parker’s girlfriend becomes worried.
She comes to Parker asking if he needs any help.
“Okay. I get it,” Parker replies, “Thank you, but…I’m fine. I don’t need your help.”
To that, Mary Jane prophetically tells Parker, “Everybody needs help sometimes Peter—even Spider-Man.”
Immediately after that a black ooze attaches itself to Parker and his ultimate fall begins as he becomes infected by evil, giving in to a thirst for vengeance that threatens to take over, not only his Spider-Man suit, but his very soul.
Pride is the exaltation of self above others, and ultimately above God.
And it always leads to a fall!
But you know what?
The proud are often unaware of their condition.
When things start going really good…
…everything starts falling into place…
…it can be very easy to become prideful without even being aware.
And then, we do stupid things…
…at least I do.
I’ve made so many mistakes, tripped over myself so many times over the past six months it’s a wonder God still allows me to be a pastor.
I keep a journal, and I look back through it periodically.
In April of this year I wrote in my journal what I felt I heard God speaking to me about the ministry vision of this church.
I wrote down: “We seek persons with ‘messy lives’ and love them with God’s kindness, tolerance and patience which God shows to all.”
Later some of you folks helped me to reshape that vision statement a bit to where it is now: “We seek persons with ‘messy lives.’
Anyhow, just about a month to the day after writing down that vision statement a difficult challenge arose…
…and I was not able to deal with it correctly.
I blew it.
I was feeling so down on myself I could barely stand it, and I was driving my wife crazy with how down on myself I was.
We were headed out of town to my brother-in-law’s graduation from Asbury Seminary.
And that whole drive up there I was wearing what I call ‘my sackcloth and ashes’…that’s figurative not literal…
…It’s what they used to do in the Old Testament while in repentance—wear Sackcloth and Ashes.
Anyhow one of you called me while I was on that trip.
You knew I was having a rough time of it.
And this is what I wrote in my journal: The person I’m speaking about, “called me on our trip to Kentucky. She had called me yesterday as well.
She has strep throat.
I thought she was calling me about her situation.
In a marvelously grace-filled manner she was calling to see how I am doing (and in parenthesis I wrote down how I was feeling).
Thank you Jesus!,” I wrote that day, “You showed Yourself to me through one of Your disciples.
You let me know you love me through one who follows You!”
Pride comes before a fall, but the fall doesn’t have to go on for eternity.
For in Christ, it is my belief, that God allows us to be knocked off our high horse in order that we can learn better just how much we need to rely on God.
When I first told one of my colleagues about the ‘messy lives’ vision that person responded with: “Be careful what you ask for! If you are serious about this—you are in for one difficult ride.”
I have really been learning about just how ‘messy’ life can be!!!
And I guess that has to happen if I am going to be able to minister to others in the most effective way.
Sometimes people become proud of themselves even as they are helping others who are hurting or bound by some terrible burden.
Pride really is a slippery, creepy, and ugly thing!
In the 1997 film The Devil’s Advocate Keanu Reeves plays defense attorney Kevin Lomax who is defending a man, Mr. Gettys against a charge of child molestation in the small town of Gainesville, Florida.
During the trial, Kevin believes his client is guilty.
During a recess, Kevin looks at himself in the mirror and the entire movie is played out as if Kevin goes on and defends the man and wins…humiliating the young victim in the process.
Kevin goes on to become an extremely successful defense attorney, with no ethics whatsoever, and in the end, his life is a complete disaster! He has done the devil’s bidding.
In the final part of the film we are returned to the bathroom where Kevin has seen his future.
Upon re-entering the trial, Kevin this time announces that he can no longer represent his client, despite the possibility of being disbarred.
A reporter follows Kevin and his wife leaving the courthouse, offering to interview Kevin about his decision, saying it will make him a star.
After some prodding from his wife, Kevin accepts the offer.
After Kevin and his wife exit the courthouse, the reporter transforms into the devil (played by Al Pacino) who says with a grin, “Vanity…definitely my favorite sin.”
Jesus says that in order to be Jesus’ followers we must humble ourselves…and this is something we must do each and every day!!!
It starts with morning prayer and devotion.
It’s something we must be intentional about.
Small accountability groups can help us greatly in this area.
We have those groups and much room for many more within this church.
We call them Band Societies.
If you feel called to be part of a small group—please let me know!
People are having some awesome God experiences as they seek to follow Christ—as ‘messy people’ joining hands with other ‘messy people’.
Christianity is a journey, and sometimes we fall.
If we keep our eyes focused on Jesus—that fall can be used for our own good and for the good of all!!!
For we will learn things we never knew about ourselves.
We will be blessed by the awesome and powerful grace and forgiveness of God and the grace and forgiveness of our brothers and sisters in Christ who struggle with the same things.
In Spider-Man 3 Peter Parker tells his girlfriend, “I’m fine. I don’t need your help…
Stay tuned because Spider-Man is in for a big surprise with some amazing Grace at the core!
There is nothing more dangerous than trying to do ministry with pride in your heart.
We cannot serve two masters.
We cannot serve self and God.
We must choose.
And when we fall…God’s grace helps us to remember what we were made for and whose we are!!!
When the going gets rough hang onto God and you will be amazed in the glory of God’s grace!!!
And when the sailing is smooth…hang on to God.
… ‘cause we are most susceptible to the sin of pride when we feel we are doing good, the sailing is smooth and the wind is at our back.
What are some pro-active things you can take, I can take to avoid and address the sin of pride.
If you really want too, you will find the only answers that really work in the Bible, on your knees in prayer and within the community of God’s people in the church.
I’m looking forward what God has in plan for Grace United Methodist Church.
Things are happening here.
God is preparing us for some real down home; down to earth ministry!!!
The Spirit is moving!
The devil would love to stop it and win…
…Let’s agree with God that we will trust in the love and grace of Jesus instead!!!