Okay, today's post hurts. I don't want to post it, because I'm really, severely, sincerely, extremely not good at it. Being a servant is not my forte, but it does not dismiss the verses from Scripture that speak very clearly about serving others. One of the reasons I really enjoy writing this blog is that I learn new things or are reminded of prior things all the time. Posting almost daily forces me to take some time to slow down and read the Bible more than I normally would.
Today's text will be from Matt. 20:25-28. It says, "But Jesus called them to Himself and said, 'You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.'"
Convicting, huh? So let's break it up and look at it more in depth. Jesus begins with a reference to who I believe were the haughty Romans, the rulers of Israel at the time. Every Jew would have known and despised exactly what Jesus was talking about, the Romans love of pomp and showy displays of power, obvious even today by Rome's vast architecture that remains after 2,000 years showing their power, including columns in memory of their conquests.
What Jesus was pointing out in them in the Romans was exactly what He didn't want the disciples doing among themselves. Pushing themselves to the forefront, demanding the position of prominence, and thrusting themselves to the position of leader. What Jesus asks for is the exact opposite of traditional leadership, a dirt under the fingernails leader, a serving leader, a humble leader.
I'm sure many of y'all will recognize the wisdom here. Anybody who has worked with a leader in the past who has told you to push yourself to do something he won't try himself knows that it is really frustrating to work with those people. I'm blessed to have as one of my taekwondo coaches a man who will get down and do pushups with us, and push himself to his limits with us. My respect has grown incredibly for this man by watching him push himself with us instead of simply ordering us around. That is a leader that I will push myself to new limits for.
Naturally, humans look up to someone who will work with them and for them even though at a station above them. The leaders I look up to the most that I've known personally are men who are more concerned about serving others than their own personal image or what people may think about them.
And that is exactly the leadership Jesus not only desired but exemplified. Jesus, just a few short days in the future, would show perfectly what he meant in Jn. 13:1-7. Here He, the spotless Lamb of God, gets on His knees and does the job of the lowliest of slaves before His disciples, the very ones who in Matt. 20 are arguing about who is greatest. Here is God, on His knees, before man; the Creator on His knees before the Creation. It's a picture that's hard to miss the meaning of.
All that's good and well, and I think we can learn a lot from that passage. I think the most amazing part is what's unsaid in this passage. This is just before Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem, His final trip into Jerusalem before His crucifixion. We see the disciples are so focused on rewards, both heavenly and earthly, that they are missing the fact that Jesus is with them.
It's hard to blame them since it's very easy to take people around for granted, but the point is still valid. In their concern for their future rewards, they missed the person of Jesus Christ, standing right in front of them. Over and over, we see them come back to this question of their ranking, completely missing the miracle happening right in front of them in the form of Jesus' incarnation then death.
I think we make the same mistake. In our efforts to look the best, or act the best, or get the top ranking in our church youth, we miss Jesus. When our efforts to look like the most manly man or the most virtuous girl take the place of our affection for Christ, we miss Jesus, we literally miss God Himself while He stands offering a relationship.
It's the age-old problem of having good priorities, then ranking them wrong in the big scheme of things. Is looking like a manly man or a virtuous girl good? Absolutely! Are either one of them more important than the total centrality of Jesus Christ? Absolutely not! If we do these good things as fruit of our relationship with Christ, that's awesome. If we forego our relationship with Christ in order to work on our own morality, we've missed the whole point.
So, we wind up back where we've been before, love. Serving others in love. It doesn't feel like something huge for God, I know. It doesn't give you the spiritual high that passing out tracts does, or maybe having an hour long quiet time. Our love for others is how we show our love for Christ. Our love for others is the fruit of our relationship with Him.
Don't miss the small things in order to make yourself look impressive. Don't skip the little things so that you can add the big, spiritual, grandiose things to your Christian resume, because I don't think God is anywhere near as interested in our outwardly beautiful masks we've designed for ourselves as He is in the heart that so many times I've carefully hidden, in all it's pride, behind that mask. The disciples were much too busy building their impressive spiritual resumes to kneel and wash each other's feet. It was only the spotless Lamb of Heaven, the only one there with a truly impressive resume that knelt to show love, serving those less deserving than Himself. He is much more interesting in our love for each other and for Himself than He is in our outwardly spiritual actions.