It can be seen and heard just about anywhere one might go. If you look inside the world of business, arrogance is obvious. You have the sales people who only know how to sell their product by talking about what all is wrong with their competitor. You see the CEO that has gone from one company to another developing businesses, but often by means of hurting good workers and loyal employees in the process. Look even around the corner at the political arena and arrogance is popping out all over the place. When there are supposed to be leaders who will only listen to another person if they already agree with what they are going to say, it feeds the arrogance of the person and the people around them. One not only thinks they are right about everything, they think that anyone who disagrees with them is either dishonest or downright ignorant. Arrogance in the educational arena is so obvious it has been turned into a joke on many fronts. Picture the shaggy haired poorly dressed professor at some ivy league school who makes fun of the notion there is a God in heaven and tries to destroy the faith of any student who sits in his room. Or think of the morally superior one who declares that anyone thinking that there is anything wrong with homosexual relationships or for that matter anything wrong with any sort of immoral behavior at all is just uninformed. Instead they seem more likely to downgrade marriage, family and any sense of responsibility.
But if we are honest about the matter, we have to say that arrogance is pretty obvious in religious circles as well. It is intriguing to me that Jesus was so obviously on the other side of this equation and that he called us to be be as well. Think of his picture of himself in Matthew 11:28-30. “Come unto me all who are weary and burdened down, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest to your soul…..” Even when he made the triumphal entrance into Jerusalem, he came in riding on a donkey’s colt not on a mighty stallion . When James and John wanted the right hand and left hand place in his kingdom, his response was that among the Gentiles their leaders exercised authority over them but it wouldn’t be that way among them. Instead among the disciples the greatest among you will be your servant and the first among you will be the least or youngest. He declared of himself that he didn’t come among you as the leader but as a servant to give his life as ransom for many.
Focus on the religious environment during Jesus time of earth. The Pharisees and Sadducees were the essence of pride and arrogance. They wanted to stand on the street corners and pray loudly so others might see. They wanted the titles and recognition in the world but wouldn’t lift one finger to help those who were hurting. Jesus plea to his own disciples was do what they tell you but don’t be like them. Remember his story of the Pharisee and tax collector who went down to the temple to pray. The Pharisee stood looking up to heaven praying with himself about how great he was. He thanked God for how much he fasted and how much he gave in tithes. He even thanked God that he wasn’t like the tax collected. The Tax collector also prayed but he couldn’t even lift his head toward heaven. He was beating himself in the chest as he prayed, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” Jesus shocked the crowd when he declared it was that tax collector who went down to his house justified and not the Pharisee. Arrogance and Christianity were never intended by the Lord to mix. Paul told his young friend Timothy to work at being gentle in his dealings with those in error so that God might bring them to repentance.
Peter may well have been the disciple who struggled with being upfront and in charge. But listen to him as he wrote as an older man about service to the Lord. He was speaking to the elders in the church when he challenged them and all to humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God and he will exalt you. He told the younger to submit to the elders and then said, “Yes and all of you be subject to one another because God resist the proud but gives grace to the humble.” We have one picture of an arrogant leader in the Bible. He isn’t referred to as an elder in the church but I think he was one. When John wrote the little letter of 3rd John he wrote to Gaius a friend. He told of problems with Diotrephes who was part of the church there and said that “He loved to be in first place.” He had rejected people that John had sent to the church and caused problems in the congregation. There was another man there named Demetrius and he was a good man and John told Gaius to follow him. Looking at this letter I suspect it was one of two situations. Either these three men were serving as elders in the church and Gaius was a younger man, maybe a new elder and John is telling him how to deal with the situation or Gaius was the preacher there and Demetrius and Diotrephes were the elders. Diotrephes was intent on running things so Gaius needed to follow Demetrius lead instead. Either way the problem was an arrogant leader who was hurting the whole church.
There is no such thing as an arrogant Christ follower. Our place as Christians is to get out of the spot light and point people to Jesus every way we can. It is destructive to the cause of Christ when men who are preachers and leaders in his work act like they are the Christ rather than the servant of Christ. Sometimes we come across like the man who said he was the most humble person in the church and he was proud of it. There is a reason why the writers of the different letters in the New Testament normally begin by saying of themselves we are the bond servants of Jesus Christ. They were working to turn people to Jesus and trying hard to stay out of the way of people seeing him. To be what God calls us to be we too must join that spirit and allow our lights to shine so people can see our good works and glorify the Father in heaven.