Choked

God's gifts - his Word, his sacraments, his Law & Gospel - are means to a beautiful end: His redeemed people, strengthened by his grace, showing his love to those who need it. When we worship, we get an opportunity to find refuge in these gifts, spiritually rejuvenated as we receive his promise to never fail us. 

It's amazing when this works. I hope you've had a chance to see it. When people of God, secure in his love for them, are confronted with unique or jarring or complicated opportunities to show the earnest, yearning love of Jesus to someone who is truly, fundamentally in need of it...few experiences are better. 

It honestly gets me choked up. When you hear that Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, gave you his body and blood so that you could be strong for every situation - what can be better? When you see someone baptized and know that they are being made into a totally new creation that can now live love it could never live before - what is more special?

Maybe you think it's dumb to get emotional about things, but at the same time I wonder if we just get choked up about the wrong things. Or, at least, that we don't get choked up about the right things. 

When God reaches down to you - yes, even to you - through his gifts, if we can stop for a second and dwell on how far he is going to get to you and how willing he is to cross that chasm, we'll realize that no situation, no opportunity to love, in which we find ourselves is too much to ask. He's done the hard part. He just gives us a chance to share what he has brought us with others.

I hope you get to be in an uncomfortable opportunity, where sharing Jesus' love requires you to dig deep. 

I hope you take that opportunity. 

I hope when you do, you get overcome (or at least nearly overcome) with emotion - not because you're so good, but because God is. 

Sensed

I have seen God's face - in the caring faces of my parents, in the loving smile of my spouse. 

I have heard his voice - in the careful guidance of teachers, in the honesty of leaders, in the laughter of a friend. 

I have felt his touch - in the embrace of a loved one, in the handshake of a mentor, in the encouraging nudge. 

I have tasted his cooking through my grandmother, I have smelled him in my grandfather's aftershave.  

Would that others could experience the same through me.
For I have sensed God - and I cannot get enough. 

---

Psalm 150:6 | Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. 

 

The Forgiven

Illumine's current sermon series, "The Given," uses God's promises to dissect this sentence: 
THE FORGIVEN ARE GIVEN THE GIVEN FOR GIVING.

Our first Sunday, which was 11/6/16, focused on the group of people known as "the forgiven." When Jesus died on the cross, he paid for all sins that ever had been or ever would be committed, but that doesn't mean that all sinners are part of the group we're thinking of in this series when we talk about "the forgiven." 

One of the ideas that exists in the meaning of "forgive" is to remove or to take away. When we think about "the forgiven" in our key sentence for this series, we're thinking about those who, through faith, have had their sins taken away from them. They don't hold onto them any more. 

Imagine you were on an island in the South Pacific, and you stumbled on an old US soldier who didn't know World War II had ended. Though the victory has been won, he was still carrying the weight of the war. The Gospel means that Jesus has one the victory, and faith in that Gospel means we don't have to be carrying the weight of our battles against sin anymore. That's what it looks like to be "the forgiven."

There's nothing that you can see or touch or hear that God has not given you as a gift - but let us not forget that it started with him taking something away. 

Psalm 103:12 |  ...as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

- Pastor Kent Reeder

Dirt is Everywhere

For the past 3 Sundays (and we'll be closing it out this coming Sunday) Illumine's been focusing on the idea that "Dirt is Dirty." The point of this series so far has been to talk a serious look at sin - what it is, why it is wrong, and just how dirty it makes us (even if it seems to have little consequence or societal impact.) 

One of the main reasons we've taken this careful look at sin is to help each of us improve at identifying and wanting to avoid broken behaviors (and all sin is broken.) We've wanted to stress how easy it is to trivialize sin, because we realize that, quite frankly, dirt is everywhere.

There isn't really any place you can turn (not even church) that isn't affected by sin. It's all over the place. If people are there - so is sin. So often we see where sin is particularly prevalent or obvious and we think, "I'll avoid that place," which is good, but then we move on from avoiding temptation to looking for paradise. We try to find the purest, most pious, most outwardly excellent setting (sometimes referred to as the most religious) and we convince ourselves that if we look hard enough, we'll find a place where there is no sin. 

So people move from church to church, friend group to friend group, denomination to denomination, philosophy to philosophy, all in pursuit of a perfectly clean place on earth. But no matter where we turn, there is dirt.

If everything you touch has dirt on it, maybe your hands are dirty. 

And that's the thing, isn't it? Everywhere we look, there's sin, but it isn't because this place or that place has an inherently sinful quality. It is because all people have an inherent problem with sin. The filthiness comes up out of us and ruins everything we touch. Even if you were adopted by a family of God's holy angels and spent time exclusively with them, you and your sin would ruin it. It wouldn't be perfect anymore. 

Dirt is everywhere. So maybe, instead of running from it, we need to clean it up. This coming Sunday, our service theme is Soap. That's the response to dirt. We don't throw away a piece of clothing after it is dirty. We don't buy new dishes each week. Instead, we wash things. The forgiveness and reconciliation that come from Jesus are the solution that can wash away dirt - even as pervasive as it is in our world. 

So maybe you don't always have to run from people who sin. Maybe you can offer them a free way to clean themselves, and show them just how good it is to be cleaned by Christ. 

1 Corinthians 6:11
But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. 

- Pastor Kent Reeder

Heroes & Victims

Sometimes people treat Christianity like there are two choices:
You can either be this bold, courageous hero,
or you can be this humble, long-suffering victim.

But Christianity walks a line between these extremes.

We don’t breed heroes, 
we don’t baby victims,
we just tell people somebody already saved them.
We don’t praise arrogance,
or shame the humiliated.
we just love like we’ve been loved, without discrimination. 

We admit that we aren't perfect, 
but we aren’t okay with the status quo.
We admit we don’t know everything,
but we don’t think we're stupid.
We admit we haven’t finished,
but we know how this is going to end.

We don’t oppress,
we won't belittle,
but we can’t enable.

We are here to fight, so that someone else can win.
We are here to preach, so that someone else can be heard.
We are here to love, because someone else first loved us.

We walk a line in between, 
where loving Christ and loving others can both be everything.
We take this narrow path,
careful to tread,
focused on the cross,
where that truth and grace and courage and humility come together in Christ. 

We do not stray toward the broken extremes,
they are sirens that would sink us.
We do not run as though fate would overtake us.
We do not stand like we have nowhere to be.
We press on, on this narrow path,
not as heroes,
not as victims,
but as people who have been saved, and who KNOW IT. 

Worship for Today

When we worship, we spend a period of time - however long it lasts, however long we can stay - resting in the promises of God. At Illumine we talk about God shining "on" us in worship, meaning we do what a beach vacationer does as the sun shines on them. We let go, we relax, and we get some much needed rejuvenation. The difference between Sunday morning at Illumine and a week at the beach is that the rest you get in worship is spiritual, not physical or emotional (at least not primarily.)

Fortunately, most of us have the opportunity to get this spiritual rest at least once a week. (Much more frequently than most can afford a vacation!) Unfortunately, this weekly pattern of worshiping can make us forget how fortunate we are to have this rest built-in. When Monday comes, we feel spiritually drained and dread the coming week because we haven't recharged - even though that's a big part of why Sunday exists. 

The great thing, though, about worship is that even on the Mondays when "Sunday didn't cut it" (because we couldn't worship, or couldn't focus, or forgot why we were there) the promises in which we basked in public worship shine just as brightly as they did yesterday. Unlike a sunny beach, the promises of God are never further away than the Bible. If you haven't got a Bible, check out a sermon (and then call Illumine - we will get you one!)  

So take advantage of this rest. It's freely available and not hard to get. Let it carry you through the week, and then come worship on Sunday, realizing that you aren't doing it to make God happy or to be a dutiful Christian - you're doing it for next Monday, Tuesday, and all the other days when your primary purpose will be to reflect the light of God he gave you in worship to others. 

Psalm 62:1-2
My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken. 

-Pastor Kent Reeder

Strays

I promise not to listen to you. 

If I said that to you, would you talk to me? If you were a glutton for punishment, maybe. If you had a lot to say and knew that simply saying it out loud would make you feel better, maybe. But most of the time, of course not. 

We don't want to talk to people when they aren't listening to us. 

For this reason, it's remarkable that God chose to use the prophet Jeremiah. Not because Jeremiah was a bad listener - no, he was pretty good. What's remarkable is that God choose to use Jeremiah at all, because the people to whom Jeremiah brought God's words were absolutely unwilling to listen.

Look at what is said about them in Jeremiah 5:

3    O Lord, do not your eyes look for truth? You struck them, but they felt no pain; you crushed them, but they refused correction. They made their faces harder than stone and refused to repent. 4 I thought, “These are only the poor; they are foolish, for they do not know the way of the Lord, the requirements of their God. 5 So I will go to the leaders and speak to them; surely they know the way of the Lord, the requirements of their God.” But with one accord they too had broken off the yoke and torn off the bonds. 

The fact that God chose, despite their behavior, to speak to his people through Jeremiah is exactly what we'll be focusing on in our upcoming sermon series (which is based entirely on readings from Jeremiah.) 

You see, God loves the strays, even as they stray. Not only that, he seeks them. 

So, go ahead. Promise God you won't listen. He's going to keep on speaking words of mercy and grace to you, every chance he gets.

- Pastor Kent Reeder

P.S. I hope you can join us for this series, which begins this Sunday, January 31st.

A Newborn Bloom: The Backstory

Illumine has developed an entirely new take on the German poem, Es ist ein Ros' Entsprungen. Our worship coordinator, Drew Sonnenberg, introduces the song in this post.

This song came into existence in a fairly roundabout way. Kent and I were discussing how the hymn “Behold a Branch is Growing” can be a little difficult to sing. It's a beautiful melody, but some of the rhythms just make things difficult for a congregation. We mentioned maybe someday writing a new melody for it.

A few weeks later, I was sitting in Bible Class paying very close attention to what Kent was saying when a melody popped into my head. I wrote it down on the spot, not wanting to lose it. The next day I fleshed it out a little bit and added the chord structure. It came to me fairly quickly, so I was worried that I was accidentally ripping off a song that I had forgotten I knew. I played the song for my wife, to see if she recognized it. She told me that it didn't sound like any melody she had heard, but it definitely sounded like a Johnny Cash song. So the song in its first incarnation was going to be a Carter/Cash duet by my wife and me. (Which you can look forward to hearing in a few weeks!)

Kent heard it and loved it, but decided he wanted to take a crack at re-translating the original German poem Es ist ein Ros' entsprungen, on which "Behold a Branch" is based. He found that the original poem had a lot of ideas and symbolism that he wanted to highlight in new and different ways (he will tell you more about that in a future blog post.)

Now we had a new melody, a new text, and we wanted to try it out. Luckily, Advent started shortly after we completed the song. The night of rehearsal, a friend of ours named Hannah was finishing up teaching a violin lesson at church and we asked if she wanted to stick around and play with us. She graciously obliged. As soon as she started playing, Kent and I looked at each other - we knew that this is what the song had been missing.

After all of this, we're pleased to present you with “A Newborn Bloom." We have a few items available for you now, with more to follow. First we have a lead sheet for those of you who want to play it with a band or just on a guitar. Second, we have a piano accompaniment for those of you who don't use a band or prefer solo piano accompaniment. The piano arrangement was written by our good friend Steven Springborn, an extremely talented pianist who teaches and directs the choir at Nebraska Lutheran High School. We would like to thank him again for his great work. Finally, we have an recording of our members here at Illumine performing the song (complete with Hannah on violin.) We are very happy with how it turned out and we hope you like it too.

You can purchase the song from it's page on our website.

-Drew Sonnenberg
Worship Coordinator - Illumine Church

O Jesus, So Sweet, O Jesus, So Mild

Away in a Manger and Silent Night tend to run away with all the "Christmas lullaby" glory. Since they're both good, that's fine, but one lullaby-to-Jesus that doesn't get quite enough credit for its beauty and simplicity is the hymn "O Jesus So Sweet, O Jesus So Mild." A poetic prayer that's simple enough for a child and deep enough for thinkers, this hymn deserves to be part of your Christmas vocabulary. 

Therefore, Illumine is making that possible by offering this recording. Illumine member Gregg Prange, Jr. played the interlude saxophone parts and improvised the part over the 3rd verse (which is fantastic!) Pastor Kent Reeder created the guitar part and the vocals were performed by Jared Colòn. Illumine's Worship Coordinator, Drew Sonnenberg, was at the helm for the recording process.

Truth is, we all need a little Christmas saxophone action, and this is a great place to get it. While it isn't likely that Valentin Thilo, the 17th century professor of rhetoric at the University of Königsberg, felt that way (since the saxophone wasn't invented until the 1840s), we feel confident that he'd have at least appreciated this arrangement of his text. We really hope that you do, too.

Give Thanks to God on High - RELEASE POST

Click here to preview and purchase "Give Thanks to God on High" as performed by Illumine.

How many of you, without looking, know the words to the hymn Give Thanks to God on High? It sounds like it would be the fanfare of every Thanksgiving service ever, right? While it certainly works as a general thanksgiving hymn, it actually has a much narrower focus.

Through the four verses of this hymn, we thank God for 3 specific things:

1. The “saints of other days” who faithfully worked to spread the Gospel message
2. The privilege to be numbered among those saints as we continue to spread the good news of the Gospel.
3. God’s promise that the church will endure forever because he will send future saints to continue this work.

In short, we thank God for the Church.

Most of the time, when we think of "the church," we think of the buildings that we worship in.  We think of the Sunday morning services where we get to give praise to our God.  However, the word that Jesus used that is often translated as “church” is the Greek word “ecclesia”. This word does not refer to a building or a service, but instead to a gathering or a group of people. When it comes to Christianity, that's the invisible church of all believers. It is this group of people that we thank God for in this hymn. We thank God for the people in the past, present, and future who have faithfully, do faithfully, and will faithfully carry out his work.

(Speaking of which, I am especially thankful for the members of my local ecclesia who have helped with the recording of this song. Jill Howe, Jared Colon, Alex Reeder, Jill Sonnenberg, Gregg Prange Sr., Gregg Prange Jr., Cody Holderbecker, and Pastor Kent Reeder. Without their talents, none of this would have been possible.)

Our version of this hymn uses a new melody that we think gives some new life to a great old text. It begins simply, with an acoustic guitar and a single vocal and continually builds throughout the song. By the end, there's a horn part that evokes the feeling of New Orleans jazz as well as gang vocals where we all join in to single the chorus in exuberant three part harmony.

This is Illumine's first recording, ever! We certainly have some things we can do better as we learn. You'll notice little discrepancies. There are some pops and clipping. We are excited for the ways we'll improve in future recordings, and we are very proud of this one - and we hope you like it. We really think many of you will, and we pray that it helps you in your life of worship.

Would You Like to Sing with Illumine?

Maybe in your car, or on your phone - even at your church?

Well, you can. Illumine is about to start releasing music. There will be audio files for general listening as well as resources for churches that want to use these arrangements - lead sheets, instrument parts, and anything else that seems helpful. 

Our ability to offer these resources is largely due to the addition of a new staff member at Illumine: Drew Sonnenberg. Drew serves as Illumine's Worship Coordinator, which predominantly means that if it has to do with music, Drew is responsible for it. He's a talented and ambitious musician with a heart for helping people sing, and these resources are perfect examples of that.

The first release will be described more in a future post (by Drew), but before that, it seemed good to give everyone a heads up about what is coming and how it will work. Once released, these resources will be for sale at illuminechurch.com. We'll be adding new ones as often as we can (we already have the next 4 songs planned for release before the year ends!) - so you'll want to stay tuned for new releases through the Illumine Update (sign up here.) 

We've chosen to make these available for purchase (and not for free) for two basic reasons. First, making these recording costs money. We didn't use a conventional studio for this recording (we used an old shower...) which did save a great deal, but we did need some technology to make it happen. Undoubtedly, as this recording process continues and becomes more refined, there will be other expenses. Offering these resources for purchase, even at the very reasonable rates we'll ask, makes this possible.

Secondly, when the addition of a Worship Coordinator to Illumine's staff was mentioned, you may have thought, "Wow. They're a pretty young and rather small congregation to be adding that!" You are correct. We're fortunate (as with everything we're doing in ministry) to have the blessings we do, but we understand that things have a price. Part of the goal of publishing these resources is to help make a position like Drew's possible. He is an incredibly gifted musician with a real heart for empowering the church through usable, congregationally friendly worship music resources. This structure will allow him to continue to do that in a way that reaches beyond his local congregation and into the church at large. (For clarity, the money received for these resources will not go toward Illumine's general work - only toward the work of the Worship Coordinator.)

I'm confident that, through the many resources we hope Illumine will offer, you'll find things that serve you, personally, and that serve your congregation. These recordings will be as diverse as the people who come to Illumine are, because when it comes to style we operate with a simple 25, 50, 25 rule: 25% of what we do is meant specifically for you and what you understand and what you love. 50% of what we do is meant to be accessible for you, the kind of thing you can definitely get behind even if it is a little different than your ideal standard. The last 25%, however, isn't for you - it's for someone else, and when you see/hear/experience it you can rejoice that God has put you in a diverse church, well-equipped with all the different features of a body unified under one head, Jesus Christ.

So stay tuned. This is an exciting endeavor that will proclaim Christ to many people. We're excited to get to sing with you, and we hope most of all that these recordings help you worship God by reminding you of his incredible faithfulness.

Worship with the Saints

For the last few weeks, Illumine's worship has centered around history, and we've looked at the different (and similar) ways that Christians throughout history have worshiped. We've tried to "embody" the particular styles and priorities of generations past in our own worship events just so we could walk in their shoes and see God as they did.

It's been interesting. While you can't really get a good picture of the history of Christian worship without intensive study and reading (starting quite naturally with the Biblical books of Acts and Hebrews, then using books like "The Bloodstained Path to God" by Daniel and Sarah Habben or Peter Brunner's "Worship in the Name of Jesus"), we have at least been able to get a taste for the how and why things were the way they were from 1-1500 AD.

What have we seen? Your takeaways may be different than mine, but I'd say this: no period of worship history has reached the perfect ideals toward which it aspired. The early church touted a concept of unity - Christ's love for all people - yet it remained fractured from place to place, class to class, and culture to culture. As the church went mainstream in the years following Emperor Constantine (Is it cool with you if I reference Wikipedia? Thanks.) we saw the event of worship, the formal gathering and the stuff done during it, begin to trump the important purpose of worship - a connection between people and their God, their hearts and his Gospel message. Then we saw the incredible artistic, musical, and architectural triumphs of a maturing Middle Ages church crumble under the weight of the hope that they would win God's approval - something only Jesus can do. 

No period of worship history has been perfect, and as we turn from the past and look to the present, we have to admit that ours may be the worst. All the struggles and errors and mis-steps we can see with 20/20 vision as we look to the past exist in us today. Churches today value "unity over truth" or "truth over unity" - just pick your poison. They think that more programs or bigger and better events will be the key to faith, when the only key is the miracle of the Word meeting with individual hearts. Today's church (and that includes most of us) tells itself that we can do something in worship that is worthy of God, when the fact is our worship is not worthy of God, because our worship is full of the same terrible things that have marred every service over the last 2,000 years: sinners like me.

Thank the merciful Lord (remember kyrie eleison?) that sinners aren't the only things that have been present in every worship service ever. Thank the worth-giving Savior that he, too, came to those gatherings. Thank the long-suffering Spirit for listening carefully to every one of our warbled prayers and un-tuned cries. Thank the eternal Word for faithfully delivering the promised hope found in the Bible and the undeserved-but-still-free love of God through the sacraments so that no matter how bad we are, no matter how much we've messed up and missed the ideals of our Father in heaven, we can still rest in his arms in worship. 

To be honest, that's the kind of history I want to be a part of, as often as I can. 

-Pastor Kent Reeder

Do you want to do good?

And by "good," I mean things that are actually good. Not risks that might pay off, not guesses at what seems good on this side of history. Provable, actual, verifiable good. Good you can be absolutely sure is good.

It's harder than it sounds, because knowing that what you're doing is truly beneficial requires a lot of understanding of a situation - the kind of understanding that, if you're honest, you don't have. For instance, donating $10 to build a well for a village in Africa seems good, and it probably is good, but if you're honest you don't really know the ins and outs of what makes that good, or what could make it better, or what would make it worse. You probably just saw something that told you to text a word to a number and you donated $10. Could the time and money you spent have been used for something better? In the broad context of history and world economics, it's almost impossible to know.

Nevertheless, you donated because you wanted to do good, and you still want to do good. But good motivation is really nothing more than a good start. What's difficult and frustrating is being sure that you are doing good in the end. I think a great number of people felt very confident that the Supreme Court accomplished something good in their decision about same-sex marriage last week. And I know a great number of people would have felt certain that the Supreme Court accomplished something good if their decision had gone in the other direction. Both sides of this argument feel so incredibly confident that they are doing what is right and good - so how can we know who is doing actual good?

Where we have questions - Do you want to do good? How do you know if you did? Does our best chance at making a positive difference in our world include a calculated risk whose value will only be determined on another side of history? Or can we do good, right now, and be sure it's good? - God has answers.

The value of a person's good works can, hypothetically, come from seeing the entire tapestry of life and the universe and time, and choosing the best next thing to do. Realistically, though, we can't do that. We aren't smart enough, big enough, or even good enough to really know what is truly right and good on our own. However, there is another way, and for the next 3 Sundays at Illumine we're going to talk about what good really looks like and how it happens. 

This sermon series, called "Free, Indeed?", will examine just how free the human will is, just where good can come from, and just what surprising things are actually good from God's perspective. It will challenge you - whether or not you're a Christian - because we all want to be doing good.

If you want to do good, if you want to be confident that what you're doing is going to be proven as valuable and worthwhile and good, then I'd invite you to join us for this discussion. There's a narrow gate through which we must walk if true good is going to come from us, and we'll be building that gate together as we talk and think. 

I hope you can join us.
-Pastor Kent Reeder

P.S. This sermon series is special because, for the first time, Illumine will be making the message available in video format online. As opposed to offering a streaming service, we've chosen to adopt a format that will give our online worshipers a custom product, tailored for them, that will be made available at 10AM on Sunday mornings via our Facebook page, Twitter account, and website. 

The Humility Vacuum

Vacuum cleaning marketers can teach us a lesson about pride and humility.

The #1 most powerful advertising image in the vacuum cleaner game is that of a vacuum cleaner holding up a bowling ball. The smaller the vacuum and the larger the ball the better the impact. You've almost certainly seen the tiny Oreck Super Compact vacuum hold up a 16 pound ball. But almost all the other brands have responded. This Merlin manages two bowling balls. You can watch this one lift 4 bowling balls. The Electrolux Intensity can pick up five bowling balls. 

The one-upsmanship of the vacuum market has ballooned so awesomely that you can even watch this Dyson pick up a car.

And while I, as a Christian who values what God values, would normally reject these egregious displays of pride in favor of a more humble, Christ-like approach, within the context of the suction-cleaning industry I have no choice but to wholeheartedly applaud the pride of Oreck, Dyson, and the like. 

And here's why:
Humility shouldn't exist in a vacuum. 

The most counter-intuitive aspect of humility is not simply that you should be humble even though you want to be prideful. That's difficult for us, yes, but what most of us truly fail to grasp is the point of or motivation for humility. 

Some say (even among church-people) that you should be humble because if you are, God promises to exalt you (see Luke 14:11). While this is a by-product of humility, it isn't the purpose or the motivation. This should be obvious because being humble in order to be glorified isn't very humble, is it? That reasoning doesn't work.

Some say you should be humble because you are, frankly, not as important as you think. It would be a lie to think of yourself as anything more than a worm or dirt compared to God - he's so powerful. While this is true, God is a lot greater than you could ever be and any pride you carry with you as you walk in the shadow of the omnipotent creator is a foolish lie you tell to make yourself feel better, it still doesn't motivate you to be humble. It motivates you to be humiliated, it motivates you to be hopeless. But not to be humble. 

You should want to be humble, you should be motivated to be humble, not because God is so great but because that great God became even more humiliated than you. In fact, he took your shame and humiliation from you (and everyone else's from them) and he carried it to a shameful death. In doing so, Christ cut through the confusing mess of prideful lies that we have built and showed us that humility is the key to making life work. His humility showed us that the humble way is actually the only way, that the prideful way is broken and foolish and leads you astray. The greatest proof of this is that Christ's humility worked: as a result of it, your shame and humiliation have been defeated and you have been given a new chance to live life a better way - the humble way, Christ's way.

And that humility shouldn't exist in a vacuum. It's should be widespread and cooperative.

God didn't ask Jesus to be humble by himself. Jesus humbled himself so there could be more humble people - such as you. And God doesn't ask you to be humble by yourself. He wants all of us to be humble, together, cooperatively. He wants a network of humble people, cooperating in humility for a greater good. It's through this network of humility that his plan succeeds and he is glorified. It's through this network of humility that we also succeed and are exalted, like Christ says we will be (as a by-product of humility). If we are all looking out for one another, if we are all considering one another more important than ourselves, we will start to see the world actually work. If we in Christ-motivated humility work to lift others up, we'll start to see the whole Church rise up, with God in the highest place.

Humility shouldn't exist in a vacuum, because that's not how humility works.

Of course, while we're on earth, we'll never see it work perfectly because the world is full of evil and selfishness. Sometimes your humility will be the only humility and you'll get taken advantage of. But that unfortunate truth does not mean we should be jaded or hopeless or rely on pride. Christians should be idealists, especially in this, because they know Christ, whose victory is the proof that the ideal is worth pursuing. 

The humble cooperation of a group of Christian people is the only way the Church as a whole will fulfill the great commission. 

The humble cooperation of a group of Christian people is the only way individual Christians can realize their potential and live redeemed lives.

The humble cooperation of a group of Christian people is the most powerful advertisement for Christ that can exist.

In fact, compared to the humble cooperation of a group of Christian people, the most successful (or even the most humble) person on earth is no better than the strongest vacuum ever invented - all they can do is sit by themselves and suck.