Pride obscures our relationship with God by treating God as smaller than he actually is, and treating ourselves as greater than we actually are. Pride is a distortion of reality. God can no more work with pride than reason with a lunatic. Pride is a kind of moral madness, where we see ourselves as gods with intrinsic beauty. With pride goes unbelief, which is refusing to accept what God says about us, himself and reality. We can only love and reverence God rightly if we grant to God his true place of firstness in our lives.
At the heart of reverence, or holy love, are six components: otherness, openness, submissiveness, gratefulness, childlikeness, and wholeheartedness. To rescue reverence is to understand these in turn.
What is the fundamental obstacle to knowing and loving God? Self-worship. Pride and unbelief, the two sides of the coin of Self, are at the root of every sin, and therefore at the root of fleeing from God. Stubborn independence, guiltily skulking away, and refusing to find pleasure in his beauty come from the flesh’s desire to rule. Unbelieving pride is the mother of all sins, and the root of all spiritual malfunction.
If we are to worship God by knowing him, the absolute starting point is that we recognise he is God and we are not. Christianity broken down to its first principle is this: only one God exists, and he is not us. He is not a means to our own ends. We have been created to know and love him for who he is. If we are to love God as he is, we must deny ourselves, recognising that our lives do not revolve around ourselves, since we orbit the sun that is God, not the other way around. We must turn from trying to use God, or manipulate God, and come to him to love him as our only God. We must settle on the fact that there will be only one ultimate love in our lives, and it will be God. A failure to give God his place as God is at the root of all our problems.
This foundational attitude of loving God we could call otherness. It understands that the Great Choice of life is to acknowledge God’s claim on us, go out of ourselves, as Augustine put it, and acknowledge God’s claim on us. Our fundamental posture is oriented away from self towards the other: the Great Other Himself.
Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, But to Your name give glory, Because of Your mercy, Because of Your truth. (Psa 115:1)
Otherness is to understand that life is not about self. Life is about going outside of ourselves to God. It is about him. He is God, we are not. He is the source, we are not. He is Alpha and Omega, Beginning and End. This is the starting point of the fear of the Lord.
A biblical word for otherness is humility.