Nobility is a striking word. It conjures up images of the regal elite, who majestically embody what it means to act with moral virtue and one-of-a-kind compassion.
We don’t always grasp onto it as being something for the ‘everyday man’ to embody, but UK author and Bethel Church pastor Carrie Lloyd believes nobility is meant to be a key trait of Christian identity.
“For me, nobility is the excellence of moral being,” Carrie told Hope 103.2 “It’s not just people doing good, but doing great and outstanding acts of kindness, courage and wisdom… it’s the character of our Lord.”
In her new book The Noble Renaissance: Reclaiming the Lost Virtue of Nobility, Carrie explores how these traits aren’t only witnessed in what Jesus taught his disciples and in His miracles, but in how he processed pain – something Carrie’s acutely familiar with.
In her early twenties her dad passed away, which was then quickly followed by the death of four more loved ones. Both Carrie’s parents were Baptist minsters and she’d be raised in the church, but found herself rejecting religion, and unsure of how God could help her recover from her loss.
“I went through so much suffering and tragedy,” said Carrie, “I started to question the goodness of God, and asked text book stuff, like, ‘Why does He allow suffering?’”
A Long Search for Truth
What followed was a journey through multiple religions and faith traditions, as Carrie explored the validity of each – at one point turning to atheism and “arguing Christians under the table” as she looked for answers to her doubts.
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All along though – over about six years – Carrie couldn’t shake the niggling interest she had in understanding God and experiencing His love. Her obsessive curiosity made her realise she did believe in God – she just didn’t know Him very well.
What made that change, Carrie said, was meeting Christians who were ‘noble’.
“I was kind of wooed back to the gospel by people who really did believe in our Lord in a way that manifested in their everyday journey,” said Carrie, “and most of all, when they were in conflict or when they were facing injustice.
“That’s when I saw nobility show up the most in these people – and that’s what made me want to have more of the gospel; I got a new and profound understanding of what relationship with God looked like, as opposed to a belief system you just talked about.”
Getting Honest With God
Carrie also got a new perspective on her pain, researching Jesus’ own experiences with grief and deciding to be more honest with God about what she was feeling.
Jesus was processing grief, “all the time in front of everyone,” Carrie said, “but we seem to sort of skip over that and we try to fix [our pain] with a scripture hoping that’ll make everything better.”
Comparing her own life to Jesus’ life, Carrie said where He handled pain with gracious trust and prayer, “I used to think about pain containing my life as opposed to my life containing pain – and so it would become all-consuming. But when I knew actually how to process [pain] it became much less consuming.
“Every time that I was honest about my pain, the Lord would come in with some wisdom and some insight, and compassion”
“It still was very real and very raw, but I knew with the history that I was building with the Lord, every time that I was honest about my pain, the Lord would come in with some wisdom and some insight, and compassion. I was able to do things I’d never thought I’d be able to so, like forgiving the unforgiveable or being compassionate when someone’s being cruel.”
Carrie says that decision to be honest with God is the key to healing.
“All He looks for is us to be honest and be truth-tellers of our own lives so that He can pour into us,” said Carrie. “… A lot of times we may vent in prayer, but I don’t know that we do a good job of listening to hear what He thinks about it afterwards.”
Going Against the Grain
Being noble though isn’t always easy Carrie believes, because it can require going against the grain of what’s culturally acceptable and taps into our innate need for community.
“If we’re in a culture where we’re looking for popularity and influence,” Carrie said, “then of course we’re going to start changing our moral compass just to fit in – because we’re supposed to be connected to each other; we’re supposed to belong to each other on some level.
“So sometimes even though it might not morally sit right with us, sometimes we override that in order to achieve and accomplish connection. And honestly, to be loved and to love in return.”
In the days of turmoil the world finds itself in in 2020, Carrie hopes her book will be an invitation for people to ask themselves, “What’s the noble choice?’ when they face issues of injustice and uncertainty. She believes it’s the perfect time to see nobility thrive.
“It’s only in conflict and in these injustices that you will witness nobility,” Carrie said, “because you have to have that tension – that polarised action; you have someone that deeply hurt someone else, and then you have the choice to respond – not to react, but to respond.”
The Noble Renaissance: Reclaiming the Lost Virtue of Nobility is available now.