Consider Jesus. He is indeed the Father’s special Son. If anyone could plead special privilege, it would be the divine Son. And yet. And yet! He did not cling to his equality with God as a self-serving privilege or ask to be excused from the mission. He did not request a pass from poverty, suffering, or even torture. He became “obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:6–8). Do we claim to be his disciples, yet presume ourselves to be greater than our Master?
I had a professor in seminary who had a knack for humbling first-year students. He enjoyed showing them they weren’t special, no matter what their Sunday school teachers and home churches had told them. In fact, this professor was so effective at humbling new seminarians, he developed a reputation for it.
He was provocative and polarizing. He had his detractors around campus, and beyond. To some, he seemed cocky and headstrong. But others loved him dearly. Not because he walked the fine line between arrogance and purposeful provocation, but because they themselves had been wonderfully awakened.
First they had been humbled by his jabs, and it hurt. It was disorienting. But as much as it smarted at first, they came to humble themselves and receive the uncomfortable truth. The professor’s shocking words proved to be the wounds of a friend. He was right. They weren’t that special — not in the ways that seminary students (and most humans) tend to think they are.
You Are (Not) Special
For many of us, one of the earliest messages we heard, the constant refrain of children’s books, the chorus of our parents (and especially grandparents), and likely even the message we heard in Sunday school, was essentially you are special.
There’s an element of truth in it, of course. You are indeed special — as human, and especially as redeemed — in ways that redound to the glory of God. In relation to the animal kingdom, God made our human race special, in his own image. Even the angels marvel at the grace we’ve received in Christ (1 Peter 1:12). And in Christ, no doubt, you are special to God — through being chosen before the foundation of the world, and then particularly redeemed by the sacrifice of Christ two millennia before you were born. And then you are three times special by the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit.