Mar. 2, 2012
Luke 22: 25-27
Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.
While in the later elementary school grades, I remember a unit about careers. We talked about who we might become. That evening, I shared this conversation at the dinner table. My Mom asked what I wanted to do when I grew up. I thought being the President of the United States would be a good job. My Dad laughed and said this would never happen. Mom responded with I had a better chance of being President than he did.
As a teen, I had great ambitions for myself. I really did think I could change the world. I wanted to move away from the rural area where I grew up and do things that would get my name into history books.
Has my life become jaded because I no longer expect myself to be President or have a line in history books? I pray not. I think I’m more realistic in recognizing my “world” appropriately. How I impact others has changed.
Reticent of a fifth grade recess debate, the disciples are having an argument about who is the greatest disciple. Imagine the possible conversation:
John: “Of course I’m the greatest. Jesus loves me the most.”
Peter: “Did he give YOU the keys to the kingdom? I don’t think so!”
Andrew (Peter’s brother): “Peter, you wouldn’t even know Jesus without me. Remember, I found him first.” (John 1:40)
Now, read Jesus’ answer carefully. If Jesus had a favorite, we don’t find out who it was. Instead of identifying the greatest or most important, Jesus focuses on how the greatest or most important should conduct him or herself. With this response, Jesus summarizes his own life and ministry.
Greatness must serve lowliness. No matter what rank a person serves in human eyes or by human estimate, the role of a Christian is to serve in a lowly, humble way. It’s not about the titles in front or behind your name. It’s about daily choices. It’s not about being the greatest person in your field, occupation, company, etc. It’s about expecting to help those who may not be able to repay you. It’s about giving more of you than receiving.
It’s about turning our expectations upside down. It’s not about how much money you make but how you can impact those who don’t make what you make. It’s not about your name in a history book because you humbly understand that someone else’s accomplishment must be remembered.
Accepting that the greatest thing I can do is not aspire to be known for being great is difficult. Honestly, I want people to recognize and acknowledge my greatness. This should not be my main aspiration. I make sense of this for awhile. But then self-greatness creeps into my thoughts. Humbleness is not always easy to live. Service gets old. Thank goodness it never wore Jesus out. Forget about this, Jesus says. Go change a life through serving. This is what is great in God’s eyes.
So, get out your service towel. Whose feet can you go and wash today? Find greatness in serving without recognition. Summarize your life not through awards and recognitions but in how you serve others.
Let us pray: How great is our God! Sing with me, how great is our God. And all the world will see, how great is our God! Amen.
P.S. – Have you found some meaningful “40 for 40” things to do this Lent? I’d love to hear about what you’re doing!