Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Some Kind of Different

"Then they began to argue among themselves about who would be the greatest among them. Jesus told them, “In this world the kings and great men lord it over their people, yet they are called ‘friends of the people.’But among you it will be different. Those who are the greatest among you should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant. Who is more important, the one who sits at the table or the one who serves? The one who sits at the table, of course. But not here! For I am among you as one who serves." ~ Luke 22:23-27 (NLT)

Way back in the dark ages of the 1970s some of my friends and I became big fans of the band Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and their live album called 4-Way Street. On that particular masterpiece, Stephen Stills performs a medley of his hits For What It's Worth ("There's something happening here, what it is ain't exactly clear...") and 49 Bye-Byes. As part of the song, he launches into a politically charged "sermon" about the youth of USAmerica and the anti-war movement of that day. At one point he reminds the crowd that if they respond to violence with violence, then "that just means we ain't learned nothing yet...and we're supposed to be some kind of different..." He goes on to mention that Jesus Christ was the first non-violent revolutionary...but that's a post for another day. Dig it.

In this world full of inequality, racism, sexism, violence, hatred and class and religious warfare, Christians have far too often assumed an air of superiority. We seek to position ourselves as leaders by assuming a "holier than thou" attitude that too many of us think sets us apart from the "heathens" of our world. It is just one more way that we have forgotten the teachings of Jesus because they are inconvenient or seem foolish in our modern society. Check out the scripture at the top. I preached a sermon a number of years ago in which I emphasized the phrase "But among you it will be different." What was Jesus saying? He we calling us to a life of service. To put ourselves not in positions of leadership, but in positions of service. We are being commanded....not asked, COMMANDED!-  to show the people the love of God whose name is Jesus by serving them in any way we can. Take the lowest rank. Leaders should be like servants. We should appear to be odd to our world, because we understand that it's not about us- it's all about loving and serving in the name of Jesus!  And yet we in the church spend countless hours figuring out ways to make ourselves feel and seem more important. We're supposed to be some kind of different. Could it be we ain't learned nothing yet?

There is a second phrase from that scripture that drives home a similar point. "Who is more important, the one who sits at the table or the one who serves? The one who sits at the table, of course. But not here! For I am among you as one who serves." If we are seeking to be Christians (CHRIST-like) then we have to realize that Jesus is setting an example for us all. The world is calling us to lift ourselves up. Jesus is calling us to get down! Wealth, power and prestige may be the way of the world...but not here! Not in the family of God. In this world you may be too young, too old, too uneducated, have too much of a past or feel like the good life has passed you by- but not here! And how do we communicate this truth to others? that? Those of us who know the real Jesus must overwhelm them with his radical, ridiculous and  redeeming love and grace. When we become servants of all, we let them know that they may feel left out in the world we live in, and they may feel unloved and worthless there. But not here! 

We (and by "we" I mean myself and the vast majority of USAmerican Christians) need a serious attitude adjustment on what it means to serve. Do you know what Jesus did to illustrate his point about service? Did he write a check to a charity? Did he just pray for the less fortunate? Did he send the disciples out on a mission trip while he went to the football game? NOJesus got dirty. He washed the disciples feet, which is the modern day equivalent of him coming to your house and scrubbing your toilet. Our service needs to be radical and it needs to be fearless. It needs to be a lifestyle not an event. We need to be feeding people, housing people, caring for the sick and loving the unloved- not yelling at people to "pull themselves up by their bootstraps" or condemning people because they sin differently than we do. If we do this as Jesus taught, then people all around us will want what we have. They will beg to know WHY we are acting so strangely, so out of step with our world. And they will come to know our LORD and savior. And then, our world will be some kinda different. Right on... and dig it.

Because of Jesus,

1 comment:

  1. Great thoughts. Thanks for the reminder.

    ReplyDelete

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