Jesus was walking along the road one day. The disciples were following, probably at a bit of a distance because they supposed Jesus could not hear them. They were having a discussion about which of them would hold the greatest position in the Kingdom of God.
When they reached the house where they were staying for the night, Jesus asked what they were talking about on the road. Nobody wanted to answer, so Jesus sat down and gathered them around and said to them, “If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all.”
Jesus was not saying great and small don’t exist in heaven…they do. He was telling them how God measures greatness. Now, most people don’t have trouble with the concept that God is not a man. If you’ve never heard that it’s time you learned God is not “The Man Upstairs.” He is not a man at all and plainly says so. I probably should inject at this point that neither is God an alien in the sense of a visitor from space. A discussion of what and who God is must wait for another time, but feel free to remind me I said that, it will make for a lively discussion.
Since God is not a man (I hear some of you, God is not a woman either.), it logically follows that God does not think or behave like a man. How humans measure greatness, success in life, and rational thinking is not the same as how God reckons all these things or the path to them.
Greatness in the eyes of God requires a kind of death. It requires emptying the self of its god-complex, the inherent need to decorate our ego with the trappings of, for want of a better word, independence…to be our own god discerning good and evil. Once a person dies to the need to serve the self, they are free to do righteously without regard to how it will affect them.
Doing the right thing, treating others as we want to be treated, loving in the face of hatred, and being spitefully used is not easy. Because it is not easy, it is not for everybody and that compounds the difficulty exponentially. If you do right, you cannot expect others to do the same or even for them to recognize that you did right by them. You must do right for no other reason than that it is right.
I hear the voices already (well, I hear them all the time, but that’s beside the point).
“What is right?”
“Who decides what’s right?”
“Who’s to judge if I’m doing right?”
I think the answer is simple and I think we all know the answer. The truth is hard to swallow because the moment we admit it, we find ourselves at odds with The Truth.
The Truth says be holy, be perfect, let the fruit of every moment of your life manifest love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance (temperance means self-control, not abstaining from alcohol). If you do these things from your heart, you will be stepped on, cussed at, abused, misused, hated, and avoided. And…if you are really doing them, you won’t mind because the accolades of your fellow man are meaningless to a servant of Truth.
When Jesus told them the greatest would be a servant, he meant that, though they would serve mankind, they were ultimately the servant of God. The service of mankind is what God is all about…for the moment. God is creating men and women with whom to have an eternal, spiritual, fellowship. However, according to Christ, this process will not go on forever. There will be a day…like the seventh day when God is done with work.
People will either be on board or not, but the ship will set sail. Sound familiar? Yeah, all those little stories are trying to tell us something about a picture too big for us to see. Your ticket for the ship is inside you…in your heart and mind. To use it, you simply need to know how to think about it.
“…be not conformed to this world: but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely…if there be any virtue…think on these things.”