Sunday, March 6, 2016

The Cost of Greatness

"But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant,  and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all.  For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”Mark 10:43-45 ESV

In Christianity, the one who is greatest made the least of himself.

Jesus forsook his lofty throne, took on the form of a man, and, in insult to his perfect, holy nature, took upon himself the penalty for the sin of every man who ever lived.

God took upon himself that which he must definitely did not deserve.

The greatest made himself the least for the sake of the lost and lowly.

Why, then, do so many Christians seek their own fame and recognition?

In the words above, Jesus explicitly rebuked his disciples who were seeking position amongst themselves.

Jesus corrected the pride of his disciples. Not only that, however, his words serve to correct the pride of all who claim to follow him, myself included.

As I read these words, I recognize my own unwillingness to humble myself in servanthood to others. Sure, it's easy to serve those who agree with me or act and think like me, but surely God doesn't want me to serve those who hate me or want to kill me.

No, no. Jesus came to serve those who were so deep in sin that they were against him. Jesus saved Paul, who before then was persecuting Christians, capturing and killing them. Jesus saved tax collectors and zealots, that is, thieving Roman sympathisers and murderous anti-Roman extremists. Paul writes in Romans 5:10 that we were enemies of Christ when he died for us.

If the example of Christ is self-sacrifice and servanthood towards others, then we need to get down on our knees and serve.

"That's all well and good," you say, "but where exactly and how am I to serve others?"

The bible talks about that in a number of places. Some that come to mind are Matthew 25:31-46 and James 1:27, feeding the hungry and thirsty, clothing the naked, giving respite to strangers in need, tending to widows and orphans. In fact, to paraphrase James in his second chapter, just do something. Even the devils do something about their belief in God - at least they shudder in fear.

I'm preaching to myself as well, but church, do something. Offer to pray with the cashier at the Taco Bell drive-thru. Go serve at a food pantry. Give some money, food, or a food voucher to a homeless person.

Church, now is the harvest. We were not called to be the overseers, watching the harvest being taken in and collecting our sites. No, as Jesus said after his stay in Samaria, "the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few."

Our role is to be the harvesters, toiling and sweating over the blades of grain, grassy stalls clinging to salty, perspiration-beaded, fly-bitten, sun-burnt skin.

Christianity was never intended to be pretty or comfortable - and I speak to myself. It's time to get dirty.