Tuesday, January 30, 2007

A Different Train of Thought...

"...whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave--just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for man." -- Matthew 20:26-28

As Mandy and I read through this passage this morning, I was struck by a number of things regarding these words of Christ. Firstly, this is such a strange way of viewing the world. The idea that in order to be first, you must be last, or that in order to be the greatest, you must be a slave, is so opposite of the picture we usually see. The beauty of American capitalism is that each person can pull themselves up out of the pit, but usually this involves pushing someone else in as we climb out. We are trained from a young age to "get ours, while the gettin's good," to only worry about #1. But the message of Jesus is one of servanthood. Scripture actually teaches that the best possible life will come through service to others, not from looking out for ourselves.

The passage has an even deeper meaning to it than that though. The phrase "Son of Man" was a phrase that was used to talk about Caesar, the Emperor of Rome. We can all picture the lavish lifestyle of the Caesar, one filled will hundreds of servants, waiting on him hand and foot. So Jesus' message becomes one of opposition to this kind of lifestyle. It's a political message. It's a message that would eventually get him killed. Jesus is saying that the true Son of Man would not be like that, but would be a servant to all. The true Son of Man would put others before himself. The true Son of Man would get serious about saving the world he claims to be a in charge of.

Some get 'up at arms' when the church gets too political. Maybe if the true Body of Christ, the people of God, would get a little more political, we could change the world. Now I'm not only talking about elections and government. Being political means having a desire to change entire systems of oppression that don't exist for God and the good of humanity. What can you do, as a follower of Christ, to change the world? How can you make an impact?


  1. Great to hear from you. Sounds like things are going well for you in Sioux Falls.

    And to see you blogging and thinking and leading in a church. Well...it makes me feel old. Weren't you and I and Joe Dalton just leading middle school worship at Templed Hills?

    Anyway..good to hear you read some of what I wrote for Interlinc, and that you are around. I will add you to my blogroll soon.

  2. Yeah, it doesn't seem that long ago that we were all in Montana together. I miss those times sometimes. Joel is also a youth pastor here in Sioux Falls and we see each other all the time.

  3. Ok Jase, i will take you on. The idea here for the mass of society is that to be a servant means to make of yourself a second class citizen and take a back seat to other people. That is not what being humble means in the least. The more I read and try to understand Jesus, the more I realize the confidence he had in who he was and who he represented. He knew enough of who he was to come quietly into a situation first and take a back seat to figure out what was happening. There was no need to barrel in and take the lead all the time. He knew enough of who he was that he did not need the validation of others to feed him his identity, thus there was no power struggle for the "top dog" position. No need to volley for control.
    I am not so sure tho, the whole save the world thing is where is at either. I have aged a bit since I entertained that notion and I think more and more that it begins with me. I remember reading in Blue Like Jazz recently that we can all "get up in arms" about numerous situations. We can get angry at injustice, or lack of initiative with kids or adults, but until I take the initiative to do something I have no room to complain. It means being a good mom, the best I can be. It is doing my job and being the best colleague I can be and really coming into a knowledge of what it means to live the christian life and doing it. Wading through the muck and gunk with others and not stopping to ask what is in this for me. It is being real 100% of the time. Easier said than done however....
    I think that is it for now....i have other thoughts but no voice for them....~cal~

  4. For sure our society has a skewed image of what humility is. We often fail to see the difference between humility and poor self-esteem. Humility is for sure not 'belittling ourselves'. It is also not 'failing to talk highly of ourselves in hopes that others will'. It is an attitude thing. Humility is a heart thing before it ever becomes an action thing. It must be.