“If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all” (verse 35.)
This is basic Christianity. Christianity 101.
And yet so many Christians keep flunking out of this most basic of courses. This is because, unlike simply memorizing the Creeds or a catechism, this course is a practical course, and the entire “grade” is based on the dreaded “lab practical” exam.
Jesus, the Master Teacher, has tried to teach us this before. He taught us, all the way back in Chapter 8 (the last chapter!), that if you want to be His disciple you must deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Him.
I didn’t spend much time on Chapter 8, verse 35 because I knew Jesus would give us many other opportunities to hear Him. In that verse He said “Whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s sake will save it.”
Jesus has been trying to teach you this for some time, you know. I know that you’ve heard His voice many times, saying “If you desire to be first in My Kingdom, then you must be the last of all and the servant of all.” He’s said it in his red-letter Gospel words.
He gave you the example of His disciples, who (in Chapter 6) learned to be servants by going out and spreading the Good News about Jesus, casting out demons, and healing people, so much so that they were exhausted and didn’t even have time to eat.
He gave you the example of Himself, though it hasn’t happened yet in our reading of the Gospel of Mark, when He gave up His life for you.
How is it that you still do not understand?
There are basically two ways to live. There is the way of the world and the way of the Christ. The way of the world is to argue, like the disciples and like us, about who will be the greatest. When I sat my kids down last night to discuss some of the problems they were having with each other and why it was that they were disturbing the peace that God intended for us, it all came down to the way of the world. Why are there fits and screams, coveting and hitting, anger and malice, laziness and bossiness, deception and tattle-telling, disrespect and disobedience? It all came down to my children wanting what they wanted instead of what God wanted and what was right. It all came down to them wanting to be the most important in having their things done, instead of what God wanted and what was good for others.
Thank God we’re not like my children!
But, of course, we are. It just looks different on adults. I don’t find many adults having outright fits, but I’ve seen a lot of adults who “quit the game and take their marbles home” when things don’t go their way. I’ve seen a lot of deception and laziness and anger and malice. I’ve seen a defiance and disobedience when God’s ministers, lay or ordained, attempt to tell a wayward Christian what God says they should do. It’s all there in us adults, alright – it just looks different on us.
How seriously are you willing to take this radical teaching of Jesus’, that you should be the servant of all? You can’t pretend now that you haven’t heard Jesus command this of you. You can’t pretend that you don’t know that He has shown you by His example that this is how life in His kingdom must be lived.
So how seriously are you willing to take Jesus’ teaching that you should be the servant of all?
If you are a husband or wife, what are you willing to give up to deny yourself and start serving your spouse?
If you are a child, are you willing to give up your stuff for the love of your brothers and sisters? Are you willing to give up what you want to do for what your parents tell you to do?
Parents: are you willing to give up your TV and social engagements, your getting ahead at work and your time alone to spend time teaching your kids how to live?
In all of the relationships in which God has providentially placed you, are you willing to give up your right to say “Hey everybody – look at me!” and “I have a right to my stuff!” and “That’s not fair!”?
Are you willing to give up what you want to do for the sake of what is right?
These are the questions that should haunt every disciple of Jesus Christ.
By the grace of the Holy Ghost, seek to be like Jesus Christ in learning to be the servant of all. Presumably, we all want to be great and we all want glory. If you want true greatness and true glory, then seek greatness in the greatest Kingdom – by learning to be the humble servant of all.
Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, thank You for teaching me the way of love, which is the way of the servant. Heal my ears today that I might hear you, and operate on my heart so that it might seek You. Encourage me by Your holy example to be the servant of all, and give me strength to serve in the way you’ve asked me to serve today.
Point for Meditation:
1. What things are you still clinging to and demanding that keep you from serving another? Select one of these and offer it up to God as a sacrifice of love and service (which is worship) by giving it up today.
2. Meditate on the ways in which others have served you in love. Remembering the service of your parents might be especially helpful. Remember to give thanks!
Resolution: I resolve to find one way in one relationship that I can act more as a loving servant today.
© 2012 Fr. Charles Erlandson
Category: Give Us This Day